Leadership Fresno began in 1984 when a group of community leaders observed Leadership Programs in other major cities and recognized the need to develop leaders in Fresno County who would become a pool of people equipped with the skills, motivation and background to lead this area successfully into the complex decades ahead.
The program was co-sponsored by the Fresno County and City Chamber of Commerce and the Fresno Bee.
The first Chair of the Steering Committee was John Raytis of the Fresno Bee. Other Steering Committee members were Dave Zeurcher of Wells Fargo Bank, Robert Christofferson of the City of Fresno, Rebecca Johnstone of Central Savings & Loan Association, Dr. Pete Mehas of Clovis Unified School District, Jan Shield of Macy’s, Helen Smades of Helen Smades Realty and C. Michael Tombleson of R.T. French Company.
The key faciltator of the program in its first few years was Harvey Zimmerman of the Fresno Bee. He was assisted by Yvonne Cashion and Kathleen Nave of the Chamber and Gayle Owens of the Fresno Bee.
An Advisory Board served to provide advice to the Steering Committee and this Board consisted of three dozen prominant business and civic leaders.