Gadsden Leadership’s seventh class graduated this past week.
Leadership Gadsden was formed a little over four years ago to help promote leadership among those concerned about Gadsden County issues.
The brainchild of Arrie Battle, the classes center around helping future leaders understand the many issues facing this community.
The six-month program includes classes that are designed to help students fulfill their potential through effective leadership skills-training in areas like team-building, strategic-planning, decision making and more.
Class members learn about how government works through classes taught by local constitutional officers.
Other classes include dealing with the press, legal issues and communicating.
Leadership Gadsden was created in partnership with the Gadsden Community Health Council Inc., Gadsden County Health Department and Mother Care, Inc..
Class president Lonyell Black gave the commencement address and spoke of how much they had learned over the six-months of weekly classes.
She said that the class had learned a lot about the county and how important it is to start change at the local level.
“To have leadership, you must have effective leaders,” she told her fellow class members.
“Among the qualities of a good leader,” she stated, “must be the ability to communicate and a real conviction and belief in what you are trying to accomplish.”
Black said now was the time to start using the leadership tools the class had learned. “The leaders are now you and me,” she added.
Keynote speaker Dr. Henry Lewis III was introduced by Leadership Gadsden’s board member Arrie Battle.
Dr. Lewis served as dean and professor in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Florida A&M University (FAMU) for the last 15 years. Dr. Lewis served as Interim President of FAMU from January through June 2002. He also served as Dean of the Texas Southern University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences for four years.
Dr. Lewis has testified before over a dozen congressional subcommittees on health, research and educational funding issues. In 1986, he made history by becoming the first African American elected to the Leon County Board of County Commissioners. While a commissioner, he spearheaded the creation of the County's Minority Business Enterprise program, developed the branch health clinic network throughout the county, successfully advocated legislative funding for a $2.5 million clinic building, and
located the new $20 million county public library downtown adjacent to the C.K. Steele bus terminal in the district he represented, making it accessible to all citizens of the city.
“You never know what God and fate have in store for you,” Dr. Lewis said of his life experiences.
He named the class the “Magnificent 7,” because they are the seventh class of the leadership program.
He praised them for making the commitment to complete the classes and now their commitment to serve.
He referred to life as being two pages in a book. The first page, he said, was your birth and the last page was your death.
“It is up to you to fill up those pages,” he said.
He explained to the class that he believed in service before self and as long as you had the commitment to serve you would be a good leader.
“Use the knowledge you have learned and you can make a difference,” he stated.
Class member Donna Salters gave an overview of this year’s class project.
The Magnificent 7 will be working with students to learn certifications offered at Gadsden Technical Institute and about certifications available through the Florida
Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
Salters, who is an advocate of entrepreneurship, said the class will be working to help those students who are interested in developing a business plan as well.