Pedro Mena, who has been teaching art classes to Columbus Academy middle-schoolers since 2016, is the only educator among 78 professionals from 70 different Central Ohio organizations selected for the Leadership Columbus Signature Program this year.

“It’s exciting to be included among people working in the business and nonprofit sector focusing on community impact,” said Mena, who also serves as the school’s fine arts department chair. “I hope to gain a deeper understanding around myth-busting leadership as well as experiencing what it means to provide mutual uplift for the personal and professional growth of others. Academy’s support and encouragement for this unique opportunity resonates with our mission, and I look forward to building deeper relationships throughout Greater Columbus.”

Also selected for this leadership group is Academy parent and alumnus Nick Jones ’01, director of Healthy Neighborhoods Healthy Families and wellness initiatives at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

The Signature Program is a 10-month experience designed to give participants the tools they need to become active and influential leaders in the community. It begins later this month with a three-day retreat at Camp Akita in Southeast Ohio to help participants hone their personal leadership styles and skills followed by eight monthly program days that focus on significant challenges to the Central Ohio region including the economy, justice system, public education, and health and human service issues.

In addition to a closing retreat next summer, a key component of the Signature Program experience is a community impact project in which the class participants self-select into small groups and work with an establish nonprofit organization on a project or cause about which they have a collective interest.