Bernard R. Merta
Every community needs leaders. When those leaders have been trained so they know more about the community they will serve, the community will be served better.
Last week, the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce graduated 10 students from its first-ever Leadership Development Academy. Those 10 students are expected to become leaders.
By organizing and sponsoring the Leadership Development Academy, the chamber shows it’s a leader in the community. And one thing that leaders do is cultivate and nurture other leaders.
Although many people had a hand in organizing the leadership-development program, Catherine Glover, the chamber’s executive director, deserves credit for making sure the program accomplished its goals. If the academy did nothing more than just educate its 10 students about Washington and Beaufort County, that alone would have been worth the chamber’s efforts. After all, people who learn more about their communities are more likely to make better-informed decisions when it comes to trying to improve their communities.
Established leaders in the community recognize the benefits the academy will provide.
With the knowledge the 10 academy graduates gained comes power and responsibilities when it comes to using that power to improve the community. Chamber President Tom Atkins realizes that.
More than 52 people, many of them community leaders themselves, helped educate the 10 students during the academy sessions, which were held on Thursdays and spread out over several weeks. That’s what leaders do — give back to the communities that gave them opportunities to become leaders.
The 10 students — Judy Chesnutt, Stephanie Sumner, Dixon Davis, Nattalie Castro, Kimberly Williams, Candi Adamick, Amanda Kinsch, Mary Pinkston, Darren Smith and Marcia Norwood — deserve the community’s respect and admiration for committing to attend the academy and being willing to prepare themselves to become leaders in the community. Their employers, for allowing these people to participate in the academy, deserve the community’s thanks. Those employers also stand to benefit from the leadership skills these people learned.
Henry Kissinger, the former U.S. Secretary of State, had this to say about leadership: “Leaders must invoke an alchemy of great vision.”
The Leadership Development Academy provides that “great vision” by opening its students’ minds to the resources in their community.
Thankfully, the chamber had the “great vision” to establish the academy. Thankfully, the first students to attend the academy had the “great vision” to do so.
Washington and Beaufort County will benefit from that vision.