Brian Marcos, Deputy Fire Chief and Deputy Director of Emergency Management for the City of Smyrna Fire Department, has a passion for serving and leading others.
Leadership Cobb, a program offered through the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, inspired Marcos to bring a new level of leadership training to public safety officers.
“The networking opportunities and leadership resources presented in the Cobb Chambers’ program are a breath of fresh air,” said Marcos. “Why not extend those same resources to our industry of public safety?”
Developing a Unique Program for First Responders
Marcos set out on a mission to develop a new leadership program that would aim for excellence. He wanted a unique experience that would unite all firefighting agencies in Cobb County around three common training goals:
- Develop meaningful relationships
- Build leadership capacity
- Learn and implement leadership techniques that are successful across industries
With the help of Dan Stotz, Assistant Dean for Strategic Partnerships at KSU’s College of Professional Education and Andrew Cox, Chief of Staff and Vice President of Leadership Development at WellStar, the United Leadership Program launched in August 2019.
The leadership curriculum teaches skills that every person needs to master on the journey to become a highly respected leader. Building relationships, setting goals, managing conflict, communicating effectively, thinking creatively, and many more are addressed during the program.
The program is designed for fire service professionals who demonstrate a commitment to career advancement and enhancing the fire-EMS service through their leadership. The eight-month program is open to 25 participants and features leaders from across the Atlanta metro.
“We were looking for something beyond a traditional classroom experience,” said Marcos. We wanted a truly unique experience, so we travelled to locations such as WellStar, Truist, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Learning onsite gave us the opportunity to speak directly with leaders of these organizations and see them in action.”
As the first offering of the United Leadership Program neared completion, the world went on lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We saw this as an opportunity for further leadership development,” said Marcos. “We needed a way to stay connected during our final sessions, which we called Leading Through Crisis.”
As the program sessions wrapped up virtually, the graduation ceremony was also held online. Cobb County fire chiefs were present to congratulation the 24 firefighters who completed the program on their accomplishment.
“We wanted the participants to receive a credential, something that would validate their learning and commitment,” said Marcos. “That’s where KSU came in. Each graduating participant received a certificate from CPE recognizing their outstanding accomplishment.”