05/20/09 — Leadership class finishes program, earns 'diplomas'

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Leadership class finishes program, earns 'diplomas'

By Dennis Hill
Published in News on May 20, 2009 1:46 PM

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Members of the 2008-09 Leadership Wayne County Class show off their certificates indicating the completion of their program at the group's graduation ceremony Tuesday.

Graduates of the Leadership Wayne County Class of 2009 said their experience has made them feel more in touch with the community.

Eighteen local business and agency leaders were honored at the organization's year-end ceremony Tuesday at the Wayne Center.

Leadership Wayne County is a program designed to assist current and emerging community leaders in their efforts to serve in leadership roles in local businesses, industries, non-profits, governmental affairs and the community.

For Gail Herring, who served as president of the class, it was a chance to connect to her adopted home. She is a native of Duplin County.

"It gave me a chance to learn more about Wayne County and what it has to offer," she said, "and meet new people."

She said forming friendships with other members of the class was also one of the most rewarding aspects of having participated in the program. And participation in Leadership Wayne County also helped her establish a network of contacts across the county, she added. Before this year, she said, she might not have known anyone to contact at the hospital or courthouse or Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. Now she knows people in a wide cross-section of the county and feels more a part of what is going on across the county.

"It's a great way to find out a little something about the community and meet people," said Steve Kirkman, who also recently moved to Wayne and was treasurer of the class. "The experience changes this from just being a place to live to being a real community."

Andrew Jernigan was born and brought up in Wayne County. But he said his time with the class gave him a much deeper look into his home county and a deeper appreciation for it and its people.

"Leadership completely enlightened me," Jernigan said, adding that after visiting various businesses, institutions and agencies over the course of the year, he received inspiration from what he saw. Jernigan served as vice president of the class.

"It makes us want to participate and be the leaders who inspire others," he said. "Everything we have we owe to this county and now it's up to us to give something back."

Members of the class mentioned such experiences as helping with Meals on Wheels as an example of that inspiration. Being able to see the looks on the faces of the elderly who were on the receiving end of a meal and friendly visit was a moving experience, they said.

Each Leadership Wayne class is required to undertake a community service project.

As a class project, the group chose to fix up the county cemetery, where the poor and homeless are laid to rest. At first the job seemed daunting, they said, but they received so much help from so many people they were able to completely refurbish the grounds off Hinnant Road.

The 2009 Leadership class participated in an opening retreat in September to begin the year, where the group participated in team-building exercises and learned about the Leadership Wayne program. Monthly program days from October through May gave the class an opportunity to visit and learn about various facets of Wayne County including the area's history, agricultural industries, law enforcement and government, educational systems, businesses and industries, community services agencies, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and arts and leisure. Class members attended three community board/commission meetings of their choosing during the class year to learn more about the role of local leaders.

The graduation ceremony marked the end of their experience.

The guest speaker at the event was Dr. David Rendall of Mount Olive College and the author of "The Four Factors of Effective Leadership."

Rendall described how people often are pigeon-holed by circumstances in school or at work and discouraged from following their natural strengths.

He urged those in attendance to not accept the advice of others who would change what might be perceived as their bad habits, but to pursue those traits even more strongly. By focusing on your natural gifts, even if they might be considered negatives by others, you will have more of a chance to find success, he said.

Members of the 2008-09 class included Tyler Barwick, Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce; Heather Beaman, Mount Olive College; James Bryan Jr., Sportsman's World; Xiomara Herrera, Partnership for Children of Wayne County; Gail Herring, Wayne County Public Schools; Jill Howell, N.C. State University Cooperative Extension; Andrew Jernigan, Jernigan Furniture; Steven Kirkman, Pittard, Perry & Crone; Shawn McDowell, T.A. Loving Co.; Dorothy Moore, Wayne Community College; Sandrea Morrisey, Wayne Memorial Hospital; Robert Outlaw, Shumate-Faulk Funeral Home; Sandra Pitt, O'Berry Center; Wallace Simmons, Cooperative Extension Services; John Szalanski, Goldsboro Family Y; Letricia Williams, Partnership for Children of Wayne County; Scott Wilson, Branch Bank & Trust; and Catherine Woodson, Village of Walnut Creek.

To learn more about the upcoming Wayne County Leadership program or to download an application, visit the Wayne County Chamber's Web site at www.waynecountychamber.com or call Janet Brock at 734-2241.