Locals better prepared after leadership class

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 16, 2005

Thursday afternoon, the class of 2005 got together for one last time to celebrate their graduation, reminisce about their shared experiences, and look forward to seeing each other in the future.

It’s a scene that will repeat itself often in the next few weeks, but this one was somewhat different: this was the 2005 class of the Leadership Marengo program.

Leadership Marengo is a nine-month program, starting each September, that brings together leading members of the county’s communities to learn about ways to work for–and work together for–the betterment of the county. The program’s 2005 graduation was held in the classroom at Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital. Graduates received certificates and a commendation from the state Public Service Commission.

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“You’re all leaders or you wouldn’t be here,” 2005 steering committee member Catherine Meador told the graduates. “You’ve shown you’re committed, so don’t be afraid to do a little more.”

Meador said in an interview Friday that one of the keys to the success of Leadership Marengo, which is based on the statewide program Leadership Alabama, had been the cross-section of Marengo county’s different communities, positions, and ethnicities.

“We really strive to have a diverse group, and one that represents the entire county: Sweet Water, Thomaston, Demopolis, Linden…all our towns,” she said. “We want to get people from all different types of jobs networking and brainstorming.

That’s what makes it successful.”

At the heart of Leadership Marengo is the drive to make the county’s leaders more knowledgeable about the county they’re leading.

“We want to educate people about the county,” Meador said. “Some were born in the hospital here and are still here. We want to help them learn how the county fits in with the rest of the state, and what we can do to promote the county. If they’re new to the area, it’s good in other ways. It’s a good program.”

A lot of that education is done, appropriately enough, in the form of field trips. Meador said the highlights of the year were group trips to Gulf States and Linden Lumber, the new Alabama Southern campus, and Montgomery for “Legislative Day,” where participants heard from several different speakers and studies the legislative process’s impact on Marengo.

“All our hosts were very generous and we certainly appreciate it,” Meader said. “It’s worked out real well.”

At the graduation, each participant commented on wha tthey had learned and enjoyed most about the program.

“I really enjoyed Legislative Day,” said Lindsy Gardner of the Demopolis Public Library, one of three new members of the Leadership Marengo steering committee. “Both for me personally and for the library, I felt like I learned a lot that can help.”

“I loved being able to go to Linden Lumber and Gulf States,” said Wanda Fuqua of Community Bank. “I’d never gotten to do those kinds of things before and I learned so much. I really enjoyed that.”

David Hubbert of Linden Lumber said he had enjoyed meeting so many of the county’s best and brightest.

“This is a great area,” he said. “These people here make it even better, and I’m looking forward to working with them in the future.”

Leadership Marengo’s 2005 graduates are: Diane Abernathy- Marengo County Health; Brenda Baker – Cemex; Pat Brady – Demopolis Chamber of Commerce; Ben Cooper – Foster Farms; Russell Davis – Alabama Power Co.; Wanda Fuqua – Community Bank; Lindsy Gardner – Demopolis Public Library; Nathaniel Garner – Foster Farms; Kathy Henslee – Sweet Water State Bank; David Hubbert – Linden Lumber; Johnnie Jones – Alfa Insurance ; Kathy Lewis – Bank Trust; Wendy McClure – Gulf States Paper Corp; Lucinda Mason – Demopolis City Schools DECA; Kayte Melton – Retired English Teacher, Demopolis City Schools; Kris Mullins – State Farm; Cindy Parten – Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital; Chris Petrey – Southern Care Hospice; Roger Pettis – Alabama Power Co.; Patricia Quinney – Robertson Banking Co.; Aaron Raulerson – Trinity Episcopal; Jay Reynolds – New York Life; Ronnie Roberts – Demopolis City Schools; Andrew Smith – McDonald’s; Tee Thomason – Alabama Power Co.; Tim Thornburgh; Bruce Ward – City of Linden.