Washington County, Georgia is strengthening its leadership pipeline with the help of a community leadership program developed by the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.

On June 8, a group of 16 individuals graduated from Washington LEADS at an event in Sandersville.

These individuals – who represented the government, education, and business sectors of Washington County – completed six months of sessions as part of the program.

During those sessions, faculty from the Fanning Institute facilitated the institute’s Community Leadership Program© curriculum.

That curriculum covers topics such as understanding leadership, leading change, communicating effectively, building collaboration, and solving problems and making decisions as a group.

Along with the leadership curriculum, the class learned more about local government, economic development, education, and health care in Washington County, and organized a group community service project.

Richard McCline, a senior public service associate at the Fanning Institute, urged the graduates to remain involved in the program and in their community.

“You’ve been certified as a community leader, so now it is important to manifest your skills with a meaningful activity,” said McCline. “A community leadership program is only as strong as its alumni. As alumni, you need to stay engaged.”

The 2017 graduates of Washington LEADS are: Neshelle Bailey, Tom Bennett, Cherry Bowen, Jamie Brindall, Tonya Brooks, Ron Frazier, Olivia Humphrey, Leigh Jordan, Sandy Lovett, Bridget Lowe, Alex McAfee, Christine McPherson, Dustin Peebles, Emily Raley, Courtney Tollison, and Allison Williams.

Washington LEADS grew out of the statewide Georgia LEADS initiative, a partnership of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Fanning Institute guided by the belief that leadership is key to economic success and that those communities that embrace leadership development will gain an inherent competitive advantage.