Thursday, October 11, 2007
Energy builds for Leadership 2008
By SUE WATSON
It’s planning and recruitment time for the 2008 Leadership Marshall.
Committees are already making plans for next year with lots of help from graduates of four previous classes, said Susan Jordan, executive director of the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce.
A steering committee of 30 members met a few weeks ago to get to work on ideas and marketing for next year’s class, and members of the 2007 class got to work on budget planning last week.
The steering committee broke out into subcommittees to bring new ideas forward for the 2008 class, said Sarah Sawyer, executive director of the Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce.
Besides the two chambers, Janet Jolley and the staff at the Marshall County Extension office have joined as regulars in planning, assisting, presenting, and helping out with many of the chores that are required for the six-months leadership course.
Classes meet one day each month following the launching of the course with a two-day retreat, usually in late fall.
The 2005 Leadership class was comprised mostly of elected officials and afterward the course has been expanded to offer the course to individuals from the entire community of Marshall County.
Businesses and corporations often take advantage of the opportunity to send employees to the course and may pay for their tuition fees.
The steering committee tries to recruit thirty individuals for each class.
Class attendance is a requirement for graduation and members cannot miss two or more modules without risk of being exempted from graduation.
“We would love to have business and industry send an employee and organizations sponsor one of their members,” said Jordan. “Or they can choose a member of the community to sponsor.”
The sponsorship covers tuition which includes course materials, meals, the cost of the retreat and other expenses.
The steering committee encourages business/corporate sponsors to make donations for partial scholarships, according to Lisa Cole with the marketing and recruiting committee. The sponsorships help individuals attend whose employers do not have the means to help pay their dues.
This is particularly needed this year, according to R.C. Anderson, assistant superintendent of education with the county school district.
“I’m highly concerned about the final product we’re putting together here, so I like to follow through on the meetings,” he said. “Important things this year are the budgeting and direction we take. We’re not leaving anybody out and there’s a positive feel about it. The drawback is the individual cost (tuition fees).”
Anderson said the committee hopes to recruit school teachers and administrators from the school districts but their employers may not have money for tuition.
“I enjoy the food and fellowship, too,” he said. “And I feel a strong sense of need to follow through on projects to highlight and build Marshall County.”
Past members have said they enjoy the new friends they make in leadership class and the camaraderie most of all.
Doris Lee of Byhalia was particularly impressed last year while enrolled in Leadership Marshall.
“I came to Marshall County in 1984 and through leadership class I learned more about the county,” she said. “I was amazed not only with the size of the county but with the available resources.”
Leadership Marshall attempts every year to recruit a diverse class with members drawn from every community in the county.
Past members have been town and city mayors, members of the board of supervisors, town aldermen, ministers, teachers, bankers, real estate brokers, accountants, managers - people of all walks of life.
Leadership Marshall is an offspring and project of the Marshall County Strategic Plan, developed in 2002-2005 with the help of The Appalachian Regional Commission, the Northeast Planning and Development District and the Marshall County Board of Supervisors.
Mississippi State University Extension Service has provided assistance with many of the modules and presentations used each year.
Anyone interested in helping plan next year’s project, sponsoring the class or a member, or volunteering in any capacity to help continue leadership training for the benefit of all communities and the county at large, is encouraged to contact Jordan at 662-252-2943, Sawyer at 662-838-8127 or Jolley at 662-252-3541.
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