CORAL GABLES — More than a dozen officials from three South Florida counties recently completed coursework designed to give them additional tools in public service.

The 17 men and women from Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties graduated from the fourth Leaders of Excellence class sponsored by the Good Government Initiative, which was founded by former Miami-Dade Commissioner Katy Sorenson.

Program graduates include Commissioner Avis Brown, Florida City; Commissioner Traci Callari, Hollywood; School Board Member Susie Castillo, Miami-Dade County Public Schools; Vice Mayor Christine Hunschofsky, City of Parkland; Vice Mayor Joseph Kelley, City of Opa-Locka; Councilwoman Ivonne Ledesma, Miami Shores Village; Councilman James McDonald, Village of Pinecrest; Councilman Adam Old, El Portal; Vice Mayor Shelly Petrolia, City of Delray Beach; Councilman Nelson Rodriguez, Town of Miami Lakes; Councilwoman Phyllis Smith, City of North Miami Beach; Mayor Philip Stoddard, City of South Miami; Commissioner Barbara Watts, Village of Biscayne Park; and Commissioner Sandra Welch, City of Coconut Creek.

Leaders of Excellence is a six-month program designed to provide elected officials with skills and knowledge they can apply to their public service. It fills the gap between formal education and life experience to create more effective decision-makers.

The curriculum educated the class in critical core areas including ethics, budget and finance, land use and natural resources, media relations, leading in a diverse community and economic development. Presenters included a bipartisan array of community leaders, public officials and outside experts such as former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, Congressman Mario Diaz Balart, Ambassador Sue Cobb, Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust Executive Director Joe Centorino and Urban Land Institute Florida Director Carla Coleman.

“These elected officials have taken the time to explore key areas of their responsibility, and are examples of dedicated community leaders working on behalf of their constituents,” said Sorenson.