EATON — The Preble County Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Preble County program graduated its third class during a ceremony at the Preble County Courthouse on Tuesday, June 18.
According to Preble County Chamber Director Leslie Collins, over the past three years, approximately three dozen individuals have completed this program.
Among those individuals have been county commissioners, city managers, leaders in manufacturing, non-profit directors, and administrative assistants. Collins herself has even graduated from the program.
The following leaders graduated from the program on Tuesday: Ted Dennis, Stephanie Garrett, Tammy Holley, Alexa Joyce, John Liddy, BJ Price, Bethany Schultz, Zac Wilson, and Robert Wood.
“Leadership Preble County is helping develop a pool of community leaders with the skills and vision to creatively address community issues. The program is not only one for helping prepare its graduates to serve on boards and task forces, its main mission is creating a network of individuals who will in turn use their awareness of the community’s strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities to improve the quality of life in Preble County,” Collins said.
“It has been said you never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone. For me, that is what Leadership Preble County aims to do — take participants out of their comfort zones where they are already leaders and place them on an even playing field with other individuals who bring a different perspective than folks they work with daily.
“It sits a United Way director beside the manager of a multi-million dollar manufacturing plant. It brings together a pastor and the head of the county soil and water conservation district. It puts on common ground a leader in health care with the city’s assistant water and wastewater superintendent.”
Collins took time to thank the following Leadership Preble County investors: Kettering Health Network, Preble County Development Partnership, and Timken Steel. She also thanked the Preble County Commissioners for arranging to allow the use of the courthouse and Zach Shafer with The Lampost for providing refreshments for the evening.
She asked every graduate of the current class to speak on Preble County Leadership and the difference it made in their lives.
Graduate Stephanie Garrett told a story explaining why their class was “gifted.”
“We started our journey with some acquaintances, with some strangers. One of our first activities involved a rope — yes, a rope. We were taken to an open field with trees and a pond not too far away from us and then blindfolded. We were handed a large rope for each of us to hold a part of with both hands and given instructions of what we could and could not do in order to form as a group a perfect square with the rope in 15 minutes, while we were blindfolded,” she said.
“Unbeknownst to us, the rope was put in front of us, behind us, and wrapped around our feet. We took our communication skills, our individual strengths and quickly came together and worked as a team. We did not fall in the pond and we did not run into trees. To the amazement of the instructor and Leslie Collins, we made a perfect square with time to spare, blindfolded. We were from that point on known by all as the ‘gifted class.’ We were bonded.
“We’ve walked this journey together. Several of us shared our jobs with our group. One of us used an apple to illustrate the earth! We visited employers in Preble County and Montgomery County that serve us here. Most of us came in thinking we knew all there was to know about Preble County and we were surprised to find out there were great things happening here we didn’t know.
“What a difference a year makes — Leadership Preble County started our journey together as classmates, but as we continue our journey as leaders in Preble County, we will continue it as colleagues and friends.”
Sign ups for the 2019-2020 class will start next month. Every graduate was encouraged to find someone to join the next class. If interested in being a part of Leadership Preble County, contact Leslie Collins at 937-456-4949 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be found on the program at www.preblecountyohio.com.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH