‘Legacy of Leadership’ Graduates Future Leaders from Chamber Champions, INSPIRE Sumter, Advancing Sumter programs

Published 11:03 am Wednesday, May 29, 2019

AMERICUS — The Sumter County Chamber of Commerce held its fifth annual “Legacy of Leadership” Graduation & Reception on May 7 at Rees Park Economic Development Center. This event celebrated graduates from the 2018-2019 Chamber Champions, 2019 INSPIRE Sumter and Advancing Sumter Leadership programs and reconnected past alumni.

Chair Faith Pinnell kicked off the program stating, “It is our goal as a Chamber of Commerce to always provide opportunities to sustain a pipeline of leaders for Sumter County.” The Leadership Division is chaired by board member, Jill Hohnecker, Georgia Southwestern State University, assistant director, Residential Living. Division members are Qaijuan Willis, City of Americus; Kim Christmas, PharmaCentra; Charles Christmas, South Georgia Technical College; Crystal Perry, Sumter County Extension Office; Cynthia Carter, South Georgia Technical College; and Krystal Heath, Sumter Family Connection.

The keynote speaker was Marc Arnett, Arnett and Associates. He lives in Americus, and has recently published a new book, What I Wish I Knew: 10 Things Every High School Student Should Know.  He is a successful and leading motivational speaker, and has spent years inspiring students to achieve their greatest potential. He uses real life experiences to teach students practical ways to deal with the many challenges that arise once students enter high school and beyond. This book covers topics like self-esteem, self-awareness, peer pressure, and many more topics that relate directly to the high school experience.  His new book may be purchased on Amazon or online at www.marcarnett.com


Recognizing the importance of preparing future leaders, the Leadership Development Division of the Chamber created Chamber Champions. This initiative was developed to provide youth with opportunities to expand their knowledge in leadership practices as they serve as leaders with their peers. Utilizing leadership curriculum from the University of Georgia’s J.W. Fanning Institute of Leadership Development, the Chamber Champion program provides students the opportunity to analyze their strengths and weaknesses, set goals, and overall how to serve as a role model. The class is comprised of students from Americus-Sumter High School, Furlow Charter School, and Southland Academy. Students are selected through an application process.  Our Champions attended monthly sessions, focused around the following modules Understanding Leadership, Communicating Effectively, Appreciating Differences, Building Teams, Managing Conflict, Setting Goals & Making Decisions, mapping your Community and Exercising Community Leadership.

Graduates are: Hannah Adkins, Southland Academy; Ryleigh Bell, Southland Academy; Adaja Brown, Furlow Charter School; Joy Charles, Americus-Sumter High; Leslie Farr, Southland Academy; L. Jackie Gomez, Americus-Sumter High; Amanda Green, Furlow Charter School; Emma Griffin, Southland Academy; Tyler Joyner, Southland Academy; Thomas Kinnamon, Furlow Charter School; Mattison Laster, Americus-Sumter High; Landon Law, Southland Academy; Luke Law, Southland Academy. The 2018-2019 Chamber Champions Class graduates are Abby Lightner, Southland Academy; Phylisicia Lundy, Americus-Sumter High; Will Minick, Southland Academy; Sarah Murphy, Southland Academy; Emily Peacock, Americus-Sumter High; Kirby Perry, Americus-Sumter High; Zachary Pickle, Furlow Charter School; Sadie Powe, Furlow Charter School; Parker Reeves, Southland Academy; Julia Skala, Furlow Charter School; Kennedy Smith, Americus-Sumter High; Gray Torbert, Southland Academy; Sha’Miracle Watts, Americus-Sumter High.


INSPIRE Sumter graduares

This year was the first class for the INSPIRE Sumter Leadership Program. This program was developed also by the University of Georgia Fanning Institute for college age students to broaden a better understanding of what makes a community successful, develop critical and reflective thinking skills, exhibit the ability to work effectively with those different from themselves, and develop collaborative relationships with other students, elected officials, and community partners.


Graduates are Georgia Southwestern State University students: Kelsey Booker, LaTisha Butcher, Victoria Stewart, Shaniya Russell, Alex Cajuste, Alexis McGarvey, Rachel Masters, Taylor Fisher, and South Georgia Technical College students: WyKeshia Robinson, Deasia Troutman, Alexis McDowell, Quinton Cromer, and Larmar Terrellis.

Advancing Sumter is a community-based leadership development program. It is focused on equipping citizens with skills to enable them to be future leaders in our community through their churches, homes, jobs, civic organizations, appointed board positions, and possibly elected capacity. A curriculum developed by the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development is used by local, trained facilitators to educate others. The

Advancing Leadership graduates.

Institute has created a curriculum of modules designed to develop knowledgeable, skilled, committed and action-oriented community leaders. Module Topics include: Understanding Leadership, Effective Communication, Valuing Community Diversity, Group Dynamics, Conducting Successful Meetings, Group Problem Solving and Decision Making, Managing Conflict, Building Communities Through Partnerships and Collaboration, Community Socio-Demographic Profile and Community Leaders’ Role in Local Economic Development.

Graduates are Mackenzie Baggett Jasmine Burkes Edwin Cordero Allison Stewart Kira Ramseur Cheri Tullis, and Qaijuan Willis.

Recipients of the Platinum Trustee Scholarships — Chamber Champions Scholarship were which is sponsored by the Platinum Trustees of the Chamber of Commerce was awarded to one graduate of the Chamber Champions program. The 2018 recipient is Ka’Liyah Morgan. She is a student at Americus-Sumter High School graduating in the Class of 2019. Sadie Powe is a student at Furlow Charter School is also a scholarship recipient.

Chamber Champions graduates.