By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer
They say, “It pays to have connections, and to stay connected.”
In the case of Leadership Tri-County, that saying is part of the bigger picture of identifying and nurturing potential leaders from the region now into leaders needed in the years ahead.
On Thursday evening, the non-profit organization and local leadership network hoped to find some of those future leaders by holding an informational reception to recruit new participants for their Class of 2014.
Held in the Administrative Board Room of Baptist Health Corbin, the session was primarily for participants in Corbin, Williamsburg and Whitley County, and was the first of three meetings to be held this month.
Two more meetings will take place on Thursday, May 30, for Knox and Laurel counties. The Knox County session starts at 11 a.m. at the Barbourville Tourism Building, while the Laurel County meeting will go on as part of London Downtown’s “Members on Main,” and begins at 1 p.m. at the London Community Center.
Leadership Tri-County’s President Miles Estes said before the session began that the idea was to get potential participants acquainted with the program and its benefits.
“It’s primarily to inform people about our program, why we do what we do, how the program operates, the advantages of being in the program, the classes and what we expect from those potential participants,” he stated.
Leadership Tri-County began in 1987, two years after the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce sponsored their first statewide leadership network called Leadership Kentucky. Three people from the Tri-County — Dr. William Hacker, Tom Handy and Jim Oaks — were chosen to participate in that state group, and because of their experience they saw a need for a similar program in this area.
In the fall of 1987, Leadership Tri-County’s first class was selected.
Estes said close to 500 people have participated in the program during the last 25 years. Their current class of 14 participants will graduate next month, with the new class starting in September. With the warmer weather months finally here, he added the time to recruit new participants is in full swing.
“We look for people who are on the move, and who show leadership qualities and care about the Tri-County’s future. What we basically do is to expose people in the class to others they may not know, to create a different network they may not have had in the past. We expose them to activities, opportunities and organizations that they may not know exist. I had a classmate who went through the program, and he now works in health care. I can contact him if I have a question on health care, or I can go to a classmate if I have a question on another subject or business, or contact someone who can speak to a group or organization. We do a lot of networking, and it shows the program can help you in connecting with others,” Estes pointed out.
One way Leadership Tri-County does that is with an education program made up of nine monthly sessions that start in September. The first session is a weekend Orientation Retreat, followed by seven day-long sessions that deal with topics covered through field trips, speakers, discussions and other related activities.
The October session deals with Law and Justice, while Economic Development is covered in November. Due to the holiday season, there is no December program, but the session resumes in January with a program on Health and Human Services. Government is covered in February with an annual trip to the State Capitol, and is a favorite with the classes.
“We go to Frankfort each year for ‘Government Day,’ and speak to local, area and state lawmakers. We watch the state legislature in action, talk to government officials and lobbyists, and learn how you get involved in the government process and civic engagement,” said Estes.
He noted among the trips the current class have taken were at a Head Start classroom, to look at the school from an educational standpoint. Economic development was involved by a visit to Highlands Diversified in London, a company that makes specific pieces of equipment for automobiles.
Education is covered by the program in March, while Communications are dealt with in April. Arts and Tourism are on their agenda in May, with the class graduating in June.
If you would like to be part of Leadership Tri-County’s Class of 2013-14 or need more information, you can email Estes at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 606-521-4485.
“What pays off for the participants is the networking they do. By making the field trips and monthly sessions and by networking with other people, they build strong relationships in other fields of business, government, education and other fields. Their knowledge of the region’s opportunities and challenges is expanded and they’re inspired to bring leadership skills to bring a brighter future to our region,” said Estes.