Leadership Tomorrow Class having positive impact on community

By Greg Miller

The Carter County Leadership Tomorrow Class is having a positive impact on the community, according to Kathy Pierce, Director of Planning and Administration, Alliance of Business & Training (AB&T).
   "These are times of opportunity for people to step up to assume leadership positions," Pierce said. "As a result of participation in classes like this one, and this class in particular, we've had renewed interest in economic development in Carter County. We have had people who are school administrators and teachers who have been a part of the class who have seen an aspect of Carter County that they were not aware of in the past.
   "We have a lot of challenges to make Carter County a better place to live. There are lots of things going on, making sure we have a trained workforce for employers that would like to locate or expand here, changes in the economy, a movement to service sector occupations, and that's across the whole area. That's not just Carter County. In fact, that's really across the whole country.
   "We need people who are willing to make the effort, who are willing to become interested in the challenges that face Carter County. The people who typically get involved in this and graduate from this program do take leadership roles.
   "We typically like for them to be at the executive level in their business, or to have potential for leadership in the community, to be involved in volunteer organizations, already active in the Carter county area in trying to make improvements and being aware of the things that go on," said Pierce.
   "It typically is more related to someone who is committed to Carter County, who is interested in learning more about our region, and who is willing to take a leadership role in the future."
   The leadership class can help someone become a better community leader, Pierce believes. "You can see in past graduates people who have assumed leadership positions, or who were in leadership positions at the time and who have really made a difference," she remarked.
   The educational process is also a growing process. "The transformation is visible by the end of the year, both in their commitment to really work harder and in the level of information that they have," Pierce said. "Every year, I have folks tell me that it's the greatest thing that they've ever done and how much they enjoyed it.
   In addition to being an enjoyable experience, the leadership class "changes them personally, and how they feel about where they live and work."
   Pierce encouarages local business owners to nominate someone from their business to enroll in the leadership class, which she says offers multiple rewards. "Number one is ecomic return," she said. "It makes their employees have more knowledge about what the strengths of Carter County are. It makes better ambassadors to bring people here to shop their businesses, to visit our downtown, to identify ways that we can get the word out."
   The Carter County Leadership Tomorrow Class was started in 1997. Seventy-two people have graduated from the class. A typical class has 10-15 members.
   Companies and organizations sponsor an employee into the class and pay the tuition for the employee. Aug. 10 is the deadline for enrolling in the next class. The tuition covers the expenses of the monthly meetings, the trip to Nashville and the graduation activities.
   This year's graduates include Nyoka Hardin, retired teacher with the Carter County School System; Whitney Dillard, CPA, Blackburn, Childers and Steagall; Gary Richards, Elizabethton Electric System; Pat Hicks, Carter County School System; Darcy Wallace, Citizen's Bank; Hobie Hyder, II, WBEJ radio; Mark Schaff, Mapes Piano String Co.; Sherry Kozakowski, RN, Director of Nursing, Life Care Center; Nickie Strickland, Carter County Bank; and Randy Musick, Elizabethton Municipal Airport.
   For more information about the leadership class or the youth leadership program currently being developed, call Pierce at 547-7500, e-mail her at kpierce@ab-t.org, or call Barbara Treadway at 547-3850 or e-mail Treadway at eccchamber@earthlink.net.