Be the Tree – Tips from Secretary Rita Landgraf

Secretary Rita Landgraf

Secretary Rita Landgraf

One of our speakers at our first session was Secretary Rita Landgraf from Health & Social Services. She leads the largest agency in Delaware, manages hundreds of programs for Delawarean’s and has a 30 member leadership team to coordinate. During her talk, she gave some tips to the Fellows that she has learned along the way.

  • Expectations – With that many people to manage and organize, it’s important to set some expectations, so that people know what you are wanting from them.
  • Effective Follower – in order to be a great leader, you also have to know when to follow.
  • Three P’s – Perseverance, Persistence and Passion – use those to keep you moving forward.
  • Be the Tree – if something is part of your core values, then stand tall, like a mighty tree; if something is simply an issue of style, learn to bend like the branches.
  • Mentor – if you aren’t sure if it’s a standing tall or bending moment, ask a mentor.

These may sound like simple tips, but she confessed that it has taken her many years to understand them, and she still struggles at times.

What are the core values that make you stand tall? Let us know.

LEADelaware Takes DC

We’ve been busy with baWhiteHouseGroupck-to-back sessions in February, March and April, so we apologize for the delay in posts. In March we were excited to visit Washington D.C. and talk with lobbyists from DuPont, American Farm Bureau and the National Association of State Departments of Ag, visited our legislative assistants, had a tour of the Capitol and White House, met with representatives from the United States Humane Society, had our photo taken with USDA Under Secretary Michael Scuse (a good ole’ Delaware farm boy) and met up with ag leadership fellows from New Jersey. SSSHHH, it was a busy three days.

Check out some of the great photos from our trip by clicking here.

Delaware’s Legislative Process – Session 3

By Ben Snow, Class III Fellow


Class III Fellow, Ben Snow

Our third session of LEADelaware  was February 6 – 7 and focused on legislation.  We started with an overview of the public policy process.  We then had legislators and lobbyists come and speak to us about both sides of legislature. This included learning about giving testimony to state legislators, the functions of a lobbyist, and the challenges of becoming a legislator.

We also heard from Jonathan Russ, a State Government Historian, and learned a lot of interesting facts about the DuPont family and how they both grew their company and gave back generously to the state in different ways.

We ended our first day by giving presentations on possible destinations for our international trip, which included rating each country on different criteria.

The second day started with the first three leadership book reviews, which were given by Jimmy Hughes, Lauren Torres, and myself.  We then had a very nice tour of legislative hall and heard about the origins and history of the legislative halls in Delaware and also about how the house and senate operate during sessions.

Our last guest was Dan Shortridge from the DDA who spoke to us about working with the media and how to effectively write a press release. We formed groups to do another argument clinic this time revolving around Jayson Lusk’s Food Police.

We ended session 3 by going over the scores for our international trip options and settled on New Zealand.  This session was very interesting in that we were able to see the different sides of legislature that we may not have had to opportunity to see otherwise.

LEADelaware’s Session IV will take place March 12 – 14 in Washington DC. Check back for updates from that trip.

Love People


At our session two weeks ago, farmer, active Board member and retired teacher, Mr. Bob Garey, was asked to participate on a panel discussing the Delaware Ag Land Preservation and Young Farmer programs. After the panel, Bob shared some other leadership tips he had learned throughout his years to the fellows.

  • Love people – it’s important to really like being around people, in order to be effective in this world. No one can accomplish anything without help from other people so be sure to make connections and be thankful for those that help you, and then return the gesture by helping other people that you are able to support.
  • Positive attitude – no matter what, try to have a good attitude about things. That good attitude will be picked up by those around you and make tough tasks easier
  • Find the right people – you when are working with the right people, you can accomplish anything; if you don’t have the right people, you may need to look for others
  • Get people to pull together in the same direction – when everyone is going in the same direction, it is hard to stop a group
  • Everyone is important – no matter the person’s ability, everyone can have an important role in life and it is important to make them feel that way
  • Expect a lot – you will get the results that you expect of people, so expect a lot from them and you won’t be disappointed
  • Compliments are important – deserved compliments are priceless, but don’t give too many unwarranted ones – it will dilute the deserved ones
  • Roll with the punches – things are going to happen, go with it – that’s life
  • Define the foul line – make sure everyone knows the rules and warn people right away when they are breaking or crossing the rules

Stand strong on beliefs; bend for style – Day 3

LEADelaware Class III, Jimmy Hughes

LEADelaware Class III Fellow Jimmy Hughes

By Jimmy Hughes, Class III Fellow

On Friday, we LEAD Fellows began our day with another great meal. After breakfast, Tom passed out our first reading assignment, a book called The Food Police. Fellows are asked to read the material and be able to discuss in an optional January session. The optional session is on Wednesday, January 15 when the author, Jayson Lusk, will be presenting at the University of Delaware. Tom will be providing more instructions as the time gets closer.

Our first speaker of the day was Jayme Arthurs from NRCS. Mr. Arthurs presented an overview of the LEAD Class II international study trip. The fellows heard about the entire experience and what to expect. Mr. Arthurs expressed the importance of journaling during the entire LEAD program.

Our second speaker, Secretary Rita Landgraf, spoke to us about the Department of Health & Social Services and what the jobs are in each section. Secretary Landgraf also provided her insights and her thoughts on leadership and what it takes to be a leader. Secretary Landgraf shared the image of the tree picture she has in her office and that you have to keep strong on your beliefs, but be able to learn to bend for issues that are just style differences.

Next, Tom presented the argument clinic. This presentation shared ideas on how to effectively argue but not attack the individual. Tom also showed examples of a letter to the editor that he wrote about an issue in Newark.

After Tom’s presentation, he passed out a list of books that are approved for each Fellow to choose one and read about leadership. The LEAD class and instructors discussed their final thoughts and thanked everyone for their participation. Our next LEAD session will be Thursday December 12th at the Delaware Department of Agriculture.