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Teaching new leaders: Behind-the-scenes look at Davie part of program

By Jeanna Baxter White

Word Master Media Group

Leadership Davie is a comprehensive training program that develops leaders who want a behind-the-scenes-peak at what makes a county run. Participants can learn about Davie’s history and potential.

“We share insightful knowledge from top quality leaders and speakers using a hands-on approach to understand life in our community. This program is for those who invest in our county as a resident, employee, or both and want to see it flourish for generations to come,” said Caroline Moser, president of the Davie County Chamber of Commerce.

Leadership Davie began in 1989 but fizzled out over time.

When Moser joined the Chamber staff in 2014, she fielded numerous questions about when the program would restart. “It was clear that Leadership Davie was a good thing and well-received. When I became chamber president in 2018 I knew that resurrecting the program was one of the first things I wanted to do.”

Moser appreciates the integral role Chamber Board Member Chuck Taylor of Sage Garden Care Center played in the development of a “program that cultivates leaders while giving them all of the pieces of the puzzle.”

Leadership Davie kicked off with two days of leadership development training led by Taylor at Carolina Bible Camp followed by monthly day-long “adult field trips” to visit with local government officials, non-profits, and area businesses. Topics covered government, infrastructure and planning, economic development, criminal justice, emergency services, health and human services, education, as well as an overview of the community’s past, present, and future.

A service project to enhance the community plays a key role in the program. The leadership team helped develop and support a mural at Davie County Community Park, which will be unveiled this spring.

Participants expressed praise for the program and considered it worth the effort.

“If you like being in the know about things that are happening in our community, you need to participate in Leadership Davie,” said Jessica Yarbrough, vice president of operations at Johnson Insurance. “My experience last year allowed me to meet so many people I might not otherwise have met. The ‘behind the scenes’ insight community members shared with us opened my eyes to not only the exciting things being worked on but also the many real needs that exist in our county.

“I was fortunate to have been participating during an election year, and I definitely became a more informed voter as a result of this class. The friendships formed with my fellow classmates have been real blessings, especially as we entered the pandemic. Each person brought a unique network, personality, and skill set to the group and it’s been cool to see how people have been able to help one another both during and after the program. I am grateful to have been a part of this class and for the many ways it still pays dividends.”

Karlyn Armsworthy, Foster Drug, agreed : “While it takes some commitment to miss work and spend whole days once monthly, the variety of topics regarding government and how it works are well worth the sacrifice and those in charge of the program made it fun too. Working with fellow participants in team-building activities, self-awareness assessments, and open conversations about our community allowed for different views and perspectives to be shared and we formed lasting relationships with each other in the process.”

Walter Wilson, Republic Services, commented that while the COVID pandemic created challenges and forced some of the meetings to be conducted over Zoom, the class was beneficial. “This inconvenience of a pandemic did not stop us, after all, we were learning leadership. I was honored to be a member of the 2019/2020 Leadership Davie Class. Our class consisted of 10 people from various professional backgrounds, all desiring to sharpen our skills in order to contribute to Davie County.  Leadership Davie increased my knowledge of all facets of county and local government, Davie County Schools, the judicial system, economic development to name just a few.  My most memorable activity was the ride along with a Davie County Sheriff’s deputy.

“You will be able to soon see our class project at the Davie County Community Park.  It is my hope that our class will stay connected and fulfill our mission of being leaders of Davie County.”

Moser said that this first group overcame the challenges and was amazing. “They were all vibrant, of different ages, different professions, and worked really well together. It was truly an awesome inaugural class.”

Members of the 2019-2020 Leadership Davie class included: Karlyn Armsworthy, Foster Drug; Allison Brown, Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care;   Sam Brown, Davie County Schools; Ashton Burton, The Swicegood Group; Johnny Lambert, Davie County Public Utilities; Melissa O’Connor, Davie Community Foundation; Joshua Perryman, The Andersons; Kimberly Stanbery, Wake Forest Baptist Health—Davie Medical Center; Walter Wilson, Republic Services; and Jessica Yarbrough, Johnson Insurance.

“Chuck and I had many conversations about whether we should hold a 2021 class since we were in a pandemic but we both felt we could deliver a safe environment for the participants,” said Moser. “We wanted to keep the momentum going since we have received rewarding feedback from the business community on re-launching the program.

“Leadership Davie is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my career. To see participants learn about themselves, discover all the amazing aspects of Davie County while forging lasting relationships is priceless. This year’s class is a diverse group of professionals who have hit the ground running and are quickly learning their leadership styles.”

Participants for the Class of 2021 include Allison Carr, Davidson-Davie Community College; Timogi Jackson, Advocacy Center of Davie County (ACDC); Kaitlyn Jarvis, Davie Chamber of Commerce; Andrea Kimura, Comfort Bilt Windows & Doors; Paul Moore, County of Davie; Adam Ridenhour, WFBH – Davie Medical Center; Al Seymour, Marzano Capital Group; and Melinda Szeliga, RE/MAX Realty Consultants.