Posted by | CDS


By Dana McConnell, CDS Executive Director

One of the greatest gifts in life is a good education. A strong foundation of language, math, science, and history is the basis for getting a job, becoming financially independent, and contributing to the community. A good education opens up a world of opportunities and possibilities.  But it shouldn’t stop there.

Once in the workforce, it’s important to continue that education.  This could be in the form of college courses to obtain an associates, bachelors or advanced degree.  It could be a specific trade skill that will help you stay marketable, provide support to your organization, and challenge yourself.  Some industry certifications require continuing education in order to renew annually, while other courses provide critical updates to legislation that affect their industry. Additional classes might focus on personal leadership and communication skills that can be applied to everyday life.  Whichever courses you take, each learning opportunity offers new information and perspectives that help us to grow.

Over the past few years, CDS has encouraged our employees to participate in professional development. As our team continues to gain valuable knowledge, we are able to strengthen our overall quality of service to the community, our partners, and the families we serve.

The Upstate is home to some incredible programs, both in the for-profit and non-profit sectors.  Here are some of our favorites that have shaped the professional growth within our team:

 The Chamber of Commerce offers some of the best opportunities around to develop and connect leaders within our communities.  These include Leadership Greenville/Spartanburg/Anderson, Friday Forums, Net Night, PULSE, the Non-Profit Alliance, and Intercommunity Leadership Visits, to name just a few.  Membership is not required to participate, but it may earn you a nice discount.

Shine the Light offers four seminars each year to non-profit directors and their board members.  Whether you are new to the non-profit community or a seasoned pro, these seminars offer rich information that will guide you on board structure, culture preservation, and peer-to-peer support.

TogetherSC (previously known as SCANPO) is a state-wide organization that elevates the landscape of our non-profit communities through best practices and resource guides.  In addition, they provide a 3-day conference each year with over 50 breakout sessions ranging from financial stability to grant writing.

The Furman University Riley Institute DLI Program engages participants in dialog about diversity, understanding the root cause of our own biases, and appreciating our differences.  They often hold community seminars about difficult topics dealing with our political climate or global issues to encourage productive conversation.

Ten at the Top provides several forums where our Upstate communities can connect and learn from each other.  Their focus areas are grouped into 5 categories:  human potential, economic vitality, sustainable growth, natural resources, and community vibrancy.

Professional development is an investment in your team. Although this does require a commitment of company time and resources, that investment is worth it.  With a little risk, your reward could be more confidence in your team, an increase in staff performance, and a decrease in employee turnover.  Not bad for a few registration fees each year.

By investing in our employees, we communicate that they are valued members of our team.  Encourage your staff to seek opportunities that challenge themselves, and be willing to support that in your annual budget.  Your organization just might reap the benefits of a more talented, loyal team.