Members of the 2012 Jacksonville-Rusk Leadership Institute will explore various businesses and programs in Cherokee County during the next nine months as they learn lifetime leadership skills.
Members of this year's class attended a breakfast earlier this month kicking off the 27th annual program. Leadership students include Allison Hale, Amy Holcomb, Arron Swink, Bruce Mehlenbacher, Chris Taylor, Davlin Kin, Fallon Dowling, Glen Bain, Jaclyn Tyler, Jessica Guerrero, Kandie Bruckner, Kim Bevel and Tim Herrick. They are led by co-chairmen Brittany Taylor, a member of the 2010 class, and Randy Gorham, who was part of the 2011 class.
This is the third year the two cities have partnered in the institute, Gorham said.
“The goal is to help participants learn to become better leaders in our community, because we generally meet with leaders or others in charge of a company or a school who talk about leadership and management styles,” he said.
Each month reflects a new theme – education, history and tourism, government and government services, community health, industry and media – “and we'll go to different places to learn more about those topics,” Taylor said. “For example, in October, we'll be visiting school districts in Jacksonville and Rusk, as well as the TJC nursing program here, Jacksonville College, Jacksonville Christian school and the Baptist Missionary Association Seminary.
“We'll get to see more behind the scenes and learn more about what our communities have to offer to be better promoters of our cities and share those things with others,” she said. “I learned so much about Jacksonville that I didn't know, and I'm from here. We just really believe in this program and we're passionate about what it teaches because we learn so much about the community.”
Jacksonville Daily Progress advertising assistant Sharon Claxton was part of last year's program, which she called “one of the best learning experiences I've ever had.”
She learned about the leadership institute at a business dinner that honored a graduating class of the program, so when her boss approached her with an application to apply, she didn't hesitate, because “I thought it sounded so exciting,” Claxton said.
“I'm not originally from here, so had I not participated in the program there were things I never would have known about the community,” she said. “When you learn more about your community, it makes you feel much more a part of it. I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to participate to do so, because there's much more to the Rusk and Jacksonville communities that one could imagine.”