‘I loved it so much:’ Carol Bruser honored for work as Leadership Shelby County director

Published 12:27 pm Thursday, February 24, 2022

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NORTH SHELBY – For someone who tries to avoid the spotlight, Carol Bruser is good at earning the right to be in it.

Colleagues, friends and family members gathered at the Alex Dudchock Shelby County Services Building on Thursday, Feb. 17 for a retirement celebration honoring Bruser for her service and dedication to Leadership Shelby County.

For Bruser, her stint as the community-based leadership program’s second executive director was a labor of love more than anything else.

“I graduated from this program in 2001, and I loved it so much that I never left,” Bruser said. “I couldn’t. It was the coolest thing in the whole world.”

Shelby County Manager of Tourism and Events Kendall Williams, an LSC Class of 2012 graduate and Bruser’s successor as executive director, said Bruser has been instrumental in helping to shape the county in many ways.

“Her dedication has made an impact on countless organizations by developing the knowledge of so many leaders who in-turn serve as great board members for those organizations,” Williams said. “For me, personally, Carol has been a mentor and sounding board for both professional and personal questions. She is someone I am blessed to call friend, and I look forward to gaining knowledge and continued support from her as she serves on the Alumni Board.”

The celebration for Bruser was equal parts warmth and humor, a reflection of her relationships and her ability to connect people from different walks of life.

“Emerson said, ‘The things that lie behind us and the things that lie in front of us are tiny compared to the things that lie within us,’” retired Shelby County Probate Judge Jim Fuhrmeister said of Bruser, a longtime friend. “Carol Bruser has wonderful things lying within her, and she has shared those things with us.”

Shelby County Commissioner Lindsey Allison called Bruser the glue, the eyes and ears and the filter for the LSC program.

“You made it better, and you launched us to the next generation,” Allison said.

Shelby County Commissioner Kevin Morris credited Bruser with investing in him and helping him find his place after a season of transition, adding, “Carol Bruser does that at every level in Leadership Shelby County, and her impact will be had for years to come.”

Shelby County Circuit Court Judge Bill Bostick said Shelby County is a better place because of Bruser.

“Carol and the board throughout the years have done the most incredible job of opening all of our eyes to all of the community we serve,” Bostick said. “We just can’t think of a better tribute than to say that your legacy with Leadership Shelby County is that you’ve made this a better place.”

Although Bruser has retired, Williams said she isn’t “done,” and added she is keeping Bruser on speed dial for questions that might arise.

“Thank you so much for building this opportunity for someone like me to come in and try and take what you’ve done even further,” Williams said. “Thank you for everything that you’ve done to get us to this point, and I hope I make you proud.”

Bruser echoed Williams’s claim that she will continue to be involved with the program—and, more importantly, the people it serves—if for no other reason than to get back the one thing she said she missed the most when she retired: hugs.

“You can’t just give this up,” Bruser said. “How many people have I hugged in this county every single day? I’m not losing my hugs.”