Leadership Shelby County graduates class of 2018

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

HOOVER – For the 38-member Leadership Shelby County class of 2018, their May 15 graduation ceremony marked the end of a several-month journey to make a tangible difference in their communities.

And by all accounts, they succeeded.

“This has taught us a lot more than just how to hold a successful event,” LSC graduate Matthew Kilpatrick said while recapping his group’s project, which involved organizing a summit for nonprofit organizations and churches serving Shelby County. “We all have differences, but if we set those differences aside, we are unstoppable and the future is great for Shelby County. That’s what we learned through Leadership Shelby County.”

For the past several months, the LSC class has split into four groups to complete community service projects, has learned about nearly every aspect of Shelby County and has learned how to most effectively address the county’s needs.

During the graduation ceremony at Jefferson State Community College in Hoover, the class members showcased their community service projects before becoming the newest alumni of the longstanding LSC program.

In addition to honoring this year’s LSC graduates, the event also celebrated the scholarship recipients from this year’s 2016 Youth Leadership class. Scholarship recipients were Jay Houser from Helena High School, Carson Bobo from Oak Mountain High School and Jennifer Harrison from Shelby County High School.

This year’s LSC members completed the following community service projects through their project groups:


-Project group one organized quarterly enrichment days for students at the Developing Alabama Youth Program, which serves at-risk students from the Shelby County, Alabaster and Pelham school systems. The group has already held a music enrichment day featuring a drum circle and a law enforcement day featuring a K-9 demonstration and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office helicopter. The group plans to hold more enrichment days for the DAY Program in the future, group members said. Group members also held a design contest for Calera High School multimedia class students to design a T-shirt for the DAY Program students.


-Project group two’s project was named “Family Connection, Future Direction,” and worked to create a master plan for the Family Connection campus off Shelby County 26 in Alabaster. Family Connection provides services to local youth facing crisis situations, and will be able to use the master plan when volunteer organizations offer help, said group member Cole Williams. The group also procured three AED devices to place at Family Connection, which were donated by the Lord Wedgwood charity, and planted several pine tree seedlings on a dirt embankment behind the Family Connection facility to help control erosion.


-Project group three, which named its project “Help Shelby County,” organized a summit for nonprofit organizations and church charities serving Shelby County. The group reached out to the organizations to assess their needs, and worked to organize the summit based on the feedback they received. The group secured about $10,000 in donations and in-kind services from sponsors, and drew more than 100 participants representing 74 nonprofit organizations to Double Oak Community Church for the summit, which covered topics such as fundraising, social media presence and board development.


-Project group four created the Shelbyyouthworks.org website, which seeks to connect area employers with younger workers.

“We have so many students that won’t go to college right away, and we’ve got employees who are very interested in the future of our students,” said group member Audra Webber.

The group worked with local public, private and homeschools while creating the website, which allows area employers to post mentorship, full-time and part-time job openings specifically geared toward youth employees. The website is hosted through a partnership with 58 Inc. and the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, and local school career coaches will promote the website among their students, group members said.


This year’s LSC class members were Bruce Andrews, Virtie Ford Bell, Pat Cheatwood, Stephen Dawkins, Julie Godfrey, Brandi Kellis, Krissie Masters, Ryan Matson, Joe Prokop, Julie Smitherman, Cole Williams, Daniel Dempsey, Jeff Atkins, Clay Carr, Alison Howell, Laura Joseph, Dana Meginniss, Bill Lewis, Jill Tomassetti and Fran Butterworth.

The class also includes Jason Bookout, Jan Corbett, Kirk Cuevas, Jennifer Ellison, Phyllis Kelley, Matthew Kilpatrick, Ryan Miller, Alicia Mooney, Matt Walker, Brian Binzer, Cindy Edmunds, Michael O’Kelley, Trey Gauntt, Jane Ann Mueller, Audra Webber, Julius Cook, Karen Pendleton and Dawn Makofski.