Terry Strine has made a smooth pass of the baton to Jennifer Cohan, and the new CEO of Leadership Delaware is off and running

Jennifer Cohan had worked 31 years in Delaware state government and 12 years in academia when she decided to retire from public service last August and step into the world of nonprofits.

She had fashioned an exceptional, trail-blazing career in Dover, serving in numerous leadership roles, becoming the first female director of the Division of Motor Vehicles, and culminating in her appointment in 2015 as Department of Transportation (DelDOT) secretary under then-Gov. Jack Markell.

“All of my favorite things rolled up into one little nonprofit,” -Jennifer Cohan. Photo provided

So what did it take to lure Cohan away from this three-decade-long climb up the government ladder?

“All of my favorite things rolled up into one little nonprofit,” she says.

That’s Leadership Delaware, Inc., a program created by Terry Strine and his wife, Sandy, with the help of former Gov. Pete du Pont, in the summer of 2008. Strine, who was chairman of the Delaware State Republican party from 2003 until 2008, came to du Pont with a seven-page outline of a year-long program of issue-oriented forums aimed at informing and training young Delawareans to be leaders in three areas: their professions, politics, and the non-profit sector.

Strine got du Pont’s blessing, recruited a board of directors, secured 501(c)(3) non-profit status, then sought nominations for participants in the program from business, political and industry leaders throughout the state. And Leadership Delaware Inc. was born.

Each class is stocked with 18 to 30 “fellows.” Chosen through a rigorous vetting process, they generally range in age from 28 to 38.

The year-long program consists of 20 sessions held throughout Delaware. Fellows participate in 230 hours of classroom time as well as additional hours working on group projects and LDI initiatives. They hear from about 150 speakers, and participate in multiple public speaking exercises.

Tuition for the program is $5,775, and is often covered or shared by employers.