MANCHESTER - United Counseling Service Director of Early Childhood Services Betsy Rathbun-Gunn, of Sandgate, recently graduated from the Snelling Center's Vermont Leadership Institute.

"This unique program greatly enhances participants' professional abilities and connections," UCS Executive Director Ralph Provenza said. "Betsy has been working with a highly select group of individuals to develop leadership skills that will benefit her and our community."

The intensive ten-month educational program involved 26 leaders from a wide variety of professions including healthcare, education, government, as well private sector business leaders.

"It's a statewide effort to strengthen public service," Rathbun-Gunn said, "and help managers to make greater contributions to their organizations, to their communities and to Vermont. I was honored to be a part of it."

Participants learn directly from each other and their stories, working to improve key leadership skills, such as the ability to bring a systems perspective to complex issues, or to engage authentically with other people of diverse backgrounds.

Other local graduates of the 2012 class at the Vermont Leadership Institute include Chris Morrow, the owner of the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester and Jim Wilbur, of South Londonderry.

The Snelling Center for Government is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization that engages, encourages, and educates Vermonters who wish to make a greater contribution to their organizations, local communities, and the State of Vermont.

UCS serves children, adults, families, and seniors through nationally recognized counseling, early care and education, and clinical support. Visit www.ucsvt.org to find out more.