County leaders refuel at alumni symposium

Apr. 10, 2014 @ 09:08 AM

Since 1993, 285 people have gone through a 12-week course intended to help them become community leaders.

On Wednesday, about 40 of them gathered again for an update.

The Caldwell County Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Caldwell teaches participants about different sectors of the community, one day a week for each of the 12 weeks, focusing on topics such as government, economic development and business, health care and schools, and it gives participants the knowledge and tools they need to become leaders in any aspect of their lives.

On Wednesday, the chamber hosted the program’s first alumni symposium, a “graduate program” to help alumni refresh the topics covered in the original course, and inspire them to continue to make a difference, chamber president Deborah Ashley-Smith said.

Crissy Thomas, a 2013 alumna of the course and now a Lenoir City Council member, said the program allowed her to meet new people, and encouraged her to get involved.

Virginia Hoyle, a 1996 alumna and current executive director of the Caldwell Memorial Hospital Foundation, said the program helped open her eyes to things in Lenoir that she wasn’t aware of, even as a native of the city. Leadership Caldwell helped her become a stronger member of the community, encouraging her to contribute more and get involved.

“It’s enlightening to see how much has changed, especially education,” Hoyle said of Wednesday's presentations.

Another alumna, Jennifer Leone, who works at Caldwell Memorial Hospital, said a major aspect of Leadership Caldwell that makes a mark on her everyday life is the networking opportunity the program supplies, saying that two or 10 years later, the bond remains.

Applications for the next Leadership Caldwell will be accepted in December, and the program will start in February, going for 12 weeks, one day per week. To be put on the list or for more information, contact the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce at 828-726-0616.