Lakeland Business Guide 2019 Chamber Guide_2019 - Page 70

BETHANY THOMAS member of Leadership Lakeland Class XXXVI Leadership Lakeland classes are not only exposed to a new network of professional peers but are given long-lasting relationships that feel like family, too. “While each class is different, friendships developed during the program are long- lasting. Together, each class transforms into a family of members who look out for one another,” says Breed. Thomas started out the class knowing only two out of the 30 participants. Now, she says, “There is not a single person in the class that I would not do anything for.” “Within the 36-hour retreat, our class went from being acquaintances to becoming a family. We laughed, we cried, and we dreamed of what our city is destined to become and how we could play a part,” says Battle. Those who lead the Leadership Lakeland classes also greatly believe in the relationships that are fostered through the program. “Personally, I have grown more as a leader, as a member of our Lakeland Chamber, and as a citizen because of the relationships I have through this experience,” says Ledford who grew up in Lakeland and was a part of Leadership Lakeland Class XXIX. The experience “It bridges the gap between various organizations within the education, health, arts and recreation, and service fields.” – BETHANY THOMAS 70