First Shenandoah County Chamber leadership class graduates

Members of the first Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class pose for a graduation photo last week. Courtesy photo

Last September, the Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce launched a leadership class for the first time. Its aim was to get community members more familiar with county issues.

The class graduated last week, and Sharon Baroncelli, the executive director of the organization, is getting ready to start up the class again for next year.

Baroncelli said that the chamber launched the  class last year to develop leaders in Shenandoah County.

“It is a program that develops our emerging and existing leaders, both in the community as well as in business,” Baroncelli said.

But the class doesn’t just teach leadership skills to participants; it also digs into local issues.

Every Friday, participants learned about a regional issue from local leaders. One day, they visited Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail to learn about the jail. On another day, Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter informed the participants about public safety issues in the county.

“It’s a deep dive into everything the county has to offer,” Baroncelli said.

That focus on local issues is part of the reason that Tracy Landes, the Shenandoah County Public Schools executive secretary to superintendent Mark Johnston, was interested in attending this year’s class.

Landes said that Johnston encouraged her to take the class because of all the communication she has with people and communities in the county, including those involved in the program. (The Northern Virginia Daily is a sponsor of the leadership program.)

“We have close ties to a lot of the community organizations that were involved in the leadership program, and it’s nice to have those relationships established,” Landes said. “And also, to have a better understanding of how they operate.”

By taking the class, Landes said, she was able to become better informed about community issues. Having that knowledge, she said, can help her take a leadership role within the county.

“I’d much rather be a leader than a sheep,” Landes said. “I’d rather know the facts, know what I’m talking about and if I don’t, be confident enough to ask questions.”

Baroncelli said that applications for next year’s class will become available on May 1 and will be due sometime in July. She said she is expecting that next year’s class will have a similar number of participants to the 18 who took part in the class this year.