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Chatham’s Leadership Academy Celebrates 15th Anniversary

Post Date:08/29/2017 3:24 PM

On August 25, 2017, Chatham County government celebrated its fifteenth graduating class of its Leadership Academy, with 31 graduates in the Class of 2017. Since the beginning, a total of 267 employees have graduated from the academy.

The Leadership Academy helps employees gain the skills necessary to effectively manage their jobs and also prepares them for expanded responsibilities. It is the only such program in the state where all classes are taught by county employees, many of whom are graduates of the academy. In recent years, several employees of the towns and nonprofit partners in the county have also enrolled.

“This is an amazing accomplishment with every single class led by talented county employees,” said County Manager Renee Paschal. “The Leadership Academy has helped so many students gain valuable skills, with many rewarded with higher level positions. That said, the instsructors learn just as much or more from the students.”

Former County Manager Charlie Horne, who conceived the idea of an internal leadership development program, was on hand to present a new annual award named in his honor. The award recognizes an outstanding student in each graduating class, selected by classmates and teachers. The first recipient is Jennifer Park in the Public Health Department.

The 2017 graduating class members by county departments or office are:

  • Chatham Transit: Anna Testerman 
  • Emergency Management: Lisa Scott 
  • Health: Rachel McInerney, Jennifer Park, Rebecca Pugh, Nicky M. Reyes, Thomas K. Rouse, Anna Claire Stormzand and Michael Zelek 
  • Register of Deeds: Veta A. Brown and Shelly Shaw 
  • Sheriff: Kevin Carey, Alyson Gardner, Andre Gipson, Veronica Henry, Kimberly D. Hughes, Robert G. Hussey, Brian Allen Inman, Scott A. Meulendyke, Ronnie L. Miller, Jessica Rogers Norton, Sara Jane Pack, Stephen Renn, Phillip Richard, and Colby Williams
  • Pittsboro Police Department: Troy Devin Roberson and Delanie Michelle Womack
  • Social Services: Caitlyn Clay and Ben Townsend
  • Soil & Water Conservation: Mary S. Goldston
  • Town of Siler City: Yajaira Hernandez

County Commissioner Chairman James Crawford shared 15 interesting facts about the Leadership Academy since its inception, including that graduates have included two sets of mothers and daughters. “The images of the many past classes and graduates tell quite a story about this terrific program.”  

 Jennifer Park receives outstanding graduate award 2017

Former Chatham County Manager Charlie Horne presents a
newly-created Outstanding Graduate Award named in his honor
to Jennifer Park in the Public Health Department.

County Manager Renee Paschal told the graduates that she had spent some time thinking about the next 15 years. Her forecast included: 

  • Most of Chatham Park’s area north of US 64 Business will be almost finished, but it will still have 25 years of development to the south. Briar Chapel will be completely built out. 
  • Both of the county’s megasites will be occupied by major industries, bringing needed tax base and jobs.
  • The county may have 200 more employees, but will almost certainly have 20,000 more residents.

“With these changes, it will be hard to hold on to what makes Chatham County special,” Paschal said. “As county employees our challenge is to provide big city services with a small-town feel. I call it the Chatham Way. Competent service delivered the friendliest way possible.”

She challenged graduates to lead in a way that is ethical and honorable. “We want you to do the right thing. I can’t guarantee the days ahead will be easy and it will require us to muster all the courage we have to see us through the many changes ahead.”

Paschal gave special recognition to Marilyn Grant in the County Manager’s Office. “Marilyn is just an amazing person to have on your team. She coordinated the anniversary celebration and made many of the decorations in the room. But most of all, she keeps the Leadership Academy moving along year after year. We could not do it without her.”

The Leadership Academy program must be completed over three years. Those enrolled must successfully complete 106 hours of classes, including 96 hours of mandatory classes and 10 hours of electives. Classes range from effective communications and conflict management to budgeting and financial planning and computer classes. 

Leadership Academy graduation class 2017

The 31 graduates of the Chatham County Leadership Academy Class of 2017