ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Current and former Rochester city leaders spent part of Monday afternoon literally acting out the principle, Each One Teach One.

Three dozen people ranging in age from 21 to 40 are participating in the African American Leadership Development Program (AALDP), sponsored by The United Way of Rochester and the Finger Lakes.

“We know there’s a lack of diversity that is on our boards,” explains Dr. Sheila Strong, the Director of Leadership Development and Equity at The United Way. “We started with the Latino leadership development program back in 1982. They came to say we have a concern in the community where individuals were making decisions about the Latino community but those individuals did not look like them.”

The panelists leading Monday’s training exercise included present and former city leaders with a range of expertise the areas of Finance, Human Resources, Economic Development and Education. They held a mock board meeting to help participants understand how to be effective members of the numerous boards, panels and social services groups that make decisions and fund programs impacting the lives of African-Americans in the Rochester area. Mayor Malik Evans stopped by the training to share some of the lessons he’s learned about effective leadership.

“This is a team and community and we can’t do this without everybody,” Evans said. “As African-American leaders I hope they decide to get involved and stay involved because they can help transform our community.”

The mayor told the group about developing a relationship with leaders who have served in similar roles. He also stressed the need for change agents to take an active role in their communities and to maintain a commitment to becoming life long learners.

More than 300 participants have graduated from AALDP. A graduation celebration for this group of leaders will be held in December. The other leadership groups promote the placement of LGBTQ plus individuals, Asian Pacific Americans, Indo Americans in board and leadership positions across the region.