(UPDATE: See photos from this month’s chamber award winners here.)
By Michael V. Hannigan
The Athens Chamber of Commerce paid tribute to its recent Athens Leadership Institute (ALI) graduates at the chamber’s monthly luncheon Wednesday.
Athens Leadership Institute, also known as ALI, meets once a month for 10 months. During the program, leaders will have the opportunity to learn about what the community has to offer as well as attend a one-day leadership retreat and speak with legislators during “Athens Day In Austin.”
The graduates for the 2012-2013 ALI class include: Steven Barksdale, Colin Barrett, Jeri Canatella, Michael Canatella, Lynn Clark, LaQuita Cox, Adam Davis, Meadora Hawkins, Dr. Charles Hueber, Russell Kidd, Dr. Jay Kinzer, Jeaneane Lilly, Kathy Means, Mary Nicholson, Greg Smith, Will Traxson, and Kim Walker.
This class will always be linked to its group project, the Kiwanis Park Splash Pad.
Steve Barksdale of BancorpSouth Insurance actually graduated from the program in 1986 as well.
“The reason I took it again is because I see men and women who want to stand out in our community, and we need to equip them with everything we possibly can,” he said. “We have things happening here because of people just like these who graduated today. They want to see things happen and they desire to have a quality of life that is second to none.”
“The greatest joy I had in taking a repeat was getting to know these young men and women who are going to make a difference in this community,” he said.
Will Traxson of Hannigan Smith Funeral Home said, “I encourage all of you who have not been a part of this to take part in it. It is an awesome opportunity for somebody to see a lot of the things that on a day-to-day basis you wouldn’t normally go and be a part of.”
Jeaneane Lilly of McDonald’s is another one who has gone through a leadership institute, but her past experience was in Allen, Texas.
“This experience with this class was so eye-opening and so positive. Every single month, I looked forward to spending the day with the class doing things in the community,” she said. “Sometimes you hear the negative all the time, and if you hear that don’t believe it. Go out for yourself and learn.”