TSD Q&A: Leadership Delaware's Terry Strine

Terry and Sandy Strine with the 2010 Leadership Delaware class.

Terry and Sandy Strine founded Leadership Delaware four years ago to address what they saw as the need to provide leadership training, mentoring and networking opportunities for rising young Delaware leaders. The program is currently recruiting candidates for its new class of fellows with receptions planned Sept. 19 and Oct. 11 and 25.


Tell us about Leadership Delaware and what inspired you to start this program?

After a lifetime of wide-ranging experience – in a major corporation, the military, finance, real estate brokerage, real estate investment, and politics, it has been my observation that true leaders with talent, integrity, vision and energy, are all too few!

Many bright young people seem to have “the stuff of leadership”, but lack the mentors, the knowledge, the network to grow into accomplished leaders of note. Thus was born my motivation to address this serious problem by forming a 501 (c) 3 non-partisan, non-profit leadership foundation. Leadership Delaware is an intensive, fast-moving program, perhaps best described by our fellows as an “MBA in Delaware.” During our 10-month program, from Feb through Nov, we meet on the first Thursday and Friday of each month. During this time, fellows will meet and hear from over 100 speakers, each prominent and accomplished Delaware leaders , who will present on topics including the economy, healthcare, education, finance and banking, the non-profit sector, corporate governance, agriculture, energy and more.


Do you feel there is a lack of leadership training in our schools and other institutions?

With occasional exceptions, schools totally fail to teach or encourage leadership, but rather, seem to promote mindless “political correctness”, and “going along to get along”.

Business leadership training tends to be very narrow, focusing (logically) on developing management talent to grow the company. Leadership Delaware’s mission is to grow leaders who will excel in all of: business and the professions; government and politics; charities and non-profits.


You are a prominent Republican, having served as state party chair during the last decade. Yet the program – both the fellows and the speakers – is decidedly non-partisan. Has it been difficult convincing people you didn’t have a partisan agenda?

Yes, I did serve for over five years as Chairman of the Delaware State Republican Committee, but decided early on that Leadership Delaware had to truly be non-partisan, and should not narrowly focus on one issue or party. I spend considerable time working with each new speaker to our class of “fellows”, and as we discuss our program’s
goals, their response is typically “you are right! We desperately need to develop more and better young leaders of integrity, for all of Delaware. How can I help?”

Over these past three years, our fellows have been privileged to meet and hear over 200 Delaware leaders, and of all those we asked to speak, I have been turned down by a grand total of four.

A quick look at our website: www.leadershipdelaware.org, will make clear that our fellows are very diverse, overwhelmingly non-political, and that our speakers are largely a-political. Or, if a speaker is presenting on a political topic, both sides of the aisle are represented.


Although only a few years old, the program seems to have developed a strong bond among the fellows. Do you actively nurture the networking element or has that taken off on its own?

You are correct! Our fellows are truly “A Band of Brothers (& Sisters),” who have become close friends, collaborators, respectful competitors – I am sure, for life.

Of course, we encourage that, but in our selection process (now highly competitive), we seek confident, bright, intellectually curious, young leaders with open minds. “Know-it-alls” don’t make the cut.

The scintillating conversations among our fellows are wonderful to behold, and while they may disagree on a particular issue, they are never disagreeable. They are truly “A Band of Brothers” to the end.


What has surprised you the most about your experience with the program?

The deep and enthusiastic support from corporate, non-profit, political, education, medical, high-tech, government leaders has been wonderful, even humbling. And, Leadership Delaware has become a highly valued and appreciated program much more quickly than I would have anticipated.

And the quality of our applicants: WOW! We truly are attracting “The best and brightest”! It’s an honor and privilege to have founded, and now, to lead this incredible organization!


What is the biggest challenge to sustaining momentum and growth?

We run a very lean operation, with a modest budget. Our tuition ($1,000) covers but one-fourth of our actual costs. Many have been very generous, but raising the funds needed to cover our budget is always a challenge.

And, we have been blessed with outstanding applicants each year, but we must continue attracting “the best and brightest of this generation”, who in turn, can win the support of “their” boss (spouse and employer). “Excellence attracts excellence”, and we must be ever be worthy of the commitment our young leaders-and their employers/partners/Board, our making to our program.


What’s your background Terry?

Born in York County, Pennsylvania, of Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry, attended and graduated from Franklin and Marshall College, have enjoyed several fun and successful careers: IBM, stock broker, real estate brokerage, real estate investor, political leadership, all of which helped prepare me for this: To form and lead Leadership Delaware.

And, with me every step of the way has been my wonderful wife of 50 years, Sandy, three children (who now run our real estate investment business), five incredible grandchildren, and so many friends and mentors.

How lucky can one guy be?


What books is Terry Strine reading these days?

I read books on political and business leaders for whom I have respect, historical novels, books on the economy and finance.


How do prospective fellows find out more about the program?

Our website: www.LeadershipDelaware.org is quite informative and interesting, and is definitely the place to begin for any who are at all curious about our program.

On our website, I suggest a quick read of the Bio’s of our fellows, testimonials of recent graduates, the list of those who have spoken to our fellows and the topics on which they presented.

We have a terrific Board – men and women of great wisdom and experience, each an accomplished leader.

Perhaps best of all, talk with one of our fellows – from our current class or a graduate; they will “tell all”, with great candor and enthusiasm.

Our application, available on our website, lays out the important dates for our next class of fellows, including how and when to learn more about our program, and how to become a candidate. The obligatory first step for any prospective applicant is to attend one of our “Candidate Receptions”, on September 19th, October 11th, and October 25th. Now is the time for any and all to “check us out”.

I am available at [email protected]

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Google Plus
  • Share on Pinterest
  • Share on LinkedIn

About the Contributor


TSD: Delaware’s best take on events, community and local life

Leave a Comment