Leadership Shelby County celebrates 2024 program graduates

Published 10:12 am Tuesday, June 4, 2024

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By EMILY SPARACINO | Special to the Reporter

NORTH SHELBY – Leadership Shelby County marked the completion of another successful year with the graduation of the class of 2024 in May.

The 31 members of this year’s class gathered at the Shelby County Services Building on U.S. 280 on Tuesday, May 14 for a private dinner, followed by a reception at which they received their graduation certificates in front of family members, friends and members of the Leadership Shelby County Board of Directors, Alumni Board and staff.

“I think it continues to impress me that 30-plus adults can come into a room where they initially may not know anybody, and by the end of the opening retreat—but especially by the end of the program—they know each other at a true connection level,” Leadership Shelby County Executive Director Kendall Williams said. “There are not just professional, but personal, relationships that have grown.”

The Class of 2024 graduates include:

  • Amanda Wilbanks, Alabaster City Schools
  • Andrew Metzler, Heart South Cardiovascular Group
  • Atisthan Roach, Vulcan Materials
  • Brooke Grigsby, Shelby County DA’s Office
  • Chuck Ledbetter, Pelham City Schools
  • Cody Long, AECOM
  • Heidi Ramey, BCBS
  • Jackie Batson, Calera Main Street
  • Jamie Wagner, city of Pelham
  • Jeannine Lyons, The Arc of Shelby County
  • Jennifer Galloway, Shelby County Schools
  • Jennifer Wilson, Oakworth Capital Bank
  • Josh Osborne, Shelby County
  • Kristie Stack, AmFirst
  • La Fran “Fran” Marks, Department of Defense/Evolution Leadership Development
  • Leonard Casey Jr., Spire
  • Lindsay Brooks, PangeaTwo
  • Lindsey Stephenson, Central Alabama Wellness
  • Melissa Dixon, CDI Janitorial
  • Mike Asdel, Shelby County EMA
  • Patrick Johnson, city of Alabaster
  • Sam Prentice, Southern Company
  • Seth Williams, Pelham Eye Center
  • Shelby O’Connor, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office
  • Sonya King, Two by Two Rescue
  • Stephanie Grissom, Vineyard Family Services
  • Susan Lehman, Team Lehman-Keller Williams Metro South
  • Sylvester Mixon Jr., Unity Christian Center
  • Tampia Anderson, ARC Realty
  • Traci Fox, T. Fox Salon
  • Wesley Hallman, University of Montevallo

Over an eight-month period, class members are given an up-close view of different facets of Shelby County, from government to education to tourism, and beyond.

Following the opening retreat in September, class days include: Local Government Day, Education Day, Justice Day, Health and Community Services, Economic and Workforce Development Day, State Government Day and Discover Shelby Day.

Williams said one change the program made following the COVID-19 pandemic was to make the class size smaller, an adjustment that has benefited the participants each year.

“I think that having a smaller class size really generates opportunities to foster relationships with all of the class instead of the select few they might sit next to that first day,” Williams said. “We break them up in small groups throughout the entire program.”

Under the new setup, participants are placed in a different small group of eight for each class day, and small group dinners are held twice a year, on the nights before the October and February class days. Four local leaders, mostly Leadership Shelby County alumni, host the dinners for the groups.

Another change for the program was eliminating the group projects that, in previous years, class members were required to create, carry out and present at graduation.

“This is the second full year without group projects,” Williams said. “We realized that having a group project and committing the time was extra-stressful for the class, and we learned it was actually deterring some people from applying for the program due to the commitment.”

Williams said program leaders decided to take away that barrier in hopes of creating a less stressful, but equally enriching, experience for all involved.

“The positives were those relationships that you built in the smaller group setting,” Williams said. “We’re continuing to foster those opportunities for people to work in small groups. They seemed to have made true connections and relationships that have continued on with the entire class, not just those few people in their project group.”

This year’s graduates enjoyed a private dinner with a speaker before the reception with the other guests began.

Williams said each year provides opportunities to learn and improve the program, and this year is particularly significant because it is the 30th year of Leadership Shelby County.

“It’s been really impressive and inspiring to me, as well,” Williams said. “As the director, I get to see every class day, all the behind-the-scenes and amazing volunteers that make this program continue to truly thrive.”

The program will commemorate this milestone and kick off the year with its alumni event, the Summer Solstice Social, on Thursday, June 20 at 5 p.m. at Boardman, Carr, Petelos, Watkins, Ogle & Howard, P.C., in Chelsea.

To register, visit Leadershipshelbycounty.com.