Friday, June 18, 2010

Leadership Development: 25 Years and Counting

On behalf of the Executive Board and the staff of the Dalton-Whitfield Chamber of Commerce, I would like to extend our congratulations to this year’s graduates of Leadership Dalton-Whitfield. This year’s class of 35 students celebrated the commencement of the 25th Leadership Dalton-Whitfield class on May 13th at the Walnut Hill Farm Event Center. Even after twenty-five years it is appropriate to marvel at the success of this remarkable program and the impact it has made on the leadership of the Greater Dalton community.

The goal of the Leadership Dalton-Whitfield program is to develop informed, confident leaders by exposing participants to community resources, opportunities and issues. Each year, class members gain knowledge of our community through sessions that concentrate on local quality of life, education, economics, local government, the judicial system, state government, medical services, cultural diversity, volunteerism, and leadership skill.

The program is structured such that teamwork and cooperation play a fundamental role in the successful completion of the program. The ideas stimulated by common experiences create synergy that helps to mold the future of Greater Dalton.

Class members are chosen by a Leadership Advisory Committee based on their interest in the community and a sincere commitment to making Greater Dalton a better place to live and work. The Committee selects participants that reflect the occupational and demographic diversity of the community. Class members acquire specific leadership skills, gain a broad base exposure to the community, form relationships with peers in other fields, and learn how networking can benefit both professional and volunteer activities.

It is hard to believe but this year we celebrate our sixth year of the Advanced Leadership Academy. The purpose of the Academy is to motivate the class participants to find their passion so that they pursue service areas that will enable them to invest in change for our community in concert with their passion. Each graduate of this year’s Leadership Dalton-Whitfield class will have an accountability partner to help guide them in becoming more involved in our community.

With this year’s graduation the total number of Leadership Dalton-Whitfield alumni rises to 869. The members of this year’s class will have the opportunity to join the Alumni Association which was created to keep its members connected with local events and issues. Alumni also stay connected through networking opportunities with their peers in the Greater Dalton business community.

Leadership Dalton-Whitfield continues to provide our community well-trained leaders with a heightened awareness of civic stewardship. If you know someone who has completed this program, please show them your support by thanking them for their commitment to our community.
Our thanks also go to Tom Minor, IV, Program Chair, and Steve Pound, Program President, for their leadership and guidance of this year’s class.

Congratulations are also extended to a special group of individuals that participated in the second class of the Chamber’s new leadership initiative - the Emerging Leaders Institute. This program is a first step to identifying young leaders and preparing them for a lifetime of community leadership. On May 11th the Emerging Leaders class graduated 23 leaders that have been trained in leadership skills such as understanding leadership, group dynamics, managing conflict, effective communication, valuing community diversity, building communities through collaboration and leading community change. These new leaders are energetic and enthusiastic about learning more about the community and how they can become involved. Several of the graduates have applied and been invited to participate in next year’s Leadership Dalton-Whitfield program. A big thanks goes to Dan Clark, Shaw Industries, and Angela Gordy, Gordy & Tatum CPAs, who served as co-chairs for this effort.

Leadership Lives Here! is a signature model implemented by your Chamber of Commerce annually. Both leadership programs continue to be successful under the guidance of Phyllis Stephens, Sr. VP for the Chamber. My appreciation and gratitude is extended to all who played a part in another successful year of Leadership development!

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