Lakeland Business Guide 2019 Chamber Guide_2019 - Page 65

Leadership Lakeland not only exposes participants to the broader perspective of Lakeland, it also unites leaders for the continued growth of a beloved city. P rior to participating in Leadership Lakeland, current class member Bethany Thomas admits, “I was very reluctant to apply at first.” Thomas is the vice president for student development at Southeastern University, and, like many others who have been a part of Leadership Lakeland classes, was nominated to apply for the program. “Being from Lakeland, I was very reluctant because I felt like I already knew a lot of people in Lakeland and did not know if I would really have time to invest,” she says. However, after being only halfway through Leadership Lakeland’s current class, Thomas has been amazed at “how in a short time, complete strangers can feel like family.” Leadership Lakeland was first established in 1983 through the vision and volunteer leadership of Dr. Jere Annis, Mr. Gene Engle, Mr. Duane McConnell, and Mr. Tom Moore. Since then, Leadership Lakeland has led 36 classes through its program designed and dedicated to enhancing the long-term leadership of the Lakeland community. “Planning for the future requires an understanding of the many different components of the community,” says Sarah Breed, the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce’s director of initiatives and program director for Leadership Lakeland. “Leadership Lakeland focuses on major areas of community interest and concern.” Among these areas are government and politics, economic development, the environment, criminal justice, business, the arts, education, communications and the media, and health and human services. Leadership Lakeland begins every year with a nomination process that takes place in March. Shortly after, nominees are sent an application which is then used to determine who the participants will be for that class. “Participants are selected from various 65