PITTSBORO — The Chatham Chamber of Commerce hosted a graduation ceremony for its class of 2023 leadership academy.
The 26 graduates were honored at the Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center in Pittsboro last Friday. Each one was presented by a plaque. This group was the largest-ever graduating class from the Leadership Chatham program.
The Leadership Chatham group focuses on learning community engagement skills through monthly meetings. These meetings cover a variety of topics across the county including local history, public safety, education and more.
The Leadership Chatham program takes participants on a journey through the community’s social, cultural, political, and economic makeup. Access to existing community experts yields firsthand knowledge of critical issues facing Chatham County. During each Leadership Chatham Class year, participants work closely as a team to develop a class project that is of benefit to Chatham County and follows along with the mission of the Chatham Chamber of Commerce.
The graduation included a presentation by the participants about takeaways and lessons from the program. Each one said they were grateful for their participation because they learned the ins and outs of the county, which they can bring back to their businesses to improve customer interactions.
"It was truly an eye-opening experience," said Phillip Tompson, a graduate of Leadership Chatham and project manager for Chatham EDC. "We were forced to ask difficult questions about the county and discover its intricacies."
The cohort also participated in a year-long philanthropy project. This group chose to focus their efforts on the Chatham County Youth Development Center in Siler City.
In total, the group donated $2,715 to the center. These funds went toward purchasing educational materials and activities such as books and yarn for the youth in the center.
Leadership Chatham said they selected the project because they felt the youth in the center were part of an often-overlooked demographic in need of assistance on their paths to rehabilitation.
"Every time we visited, it was so clear the staff had a deep passion for care and a desire to speak truth to power," said Allison Bolin, a graduate and director of business at UNC Health Chatham.
Visit the Chatham Chamber of Commerce website for more information about Leadership Chatham.