CSRA leadership programs educate community, raise leaders

Class gives leaders 'behind-the-scenes' look at city

Carolyn Tynan had lived in Augusta for years before she really got to know the city.


Tynan, who moved to the area to work at Plant Vogtle, said that before she was a part of Leadership Augusta’s class of 2000, she really had no idea what the community was all about.

“The best way to get involved in the community is to jump right in,” she said.

After completing Leadership Augusta, Tynan felt like she finally had an understanding how the area functioned and how she could serve her community. That’s the biggest goal of Leader­ship Augusta, she said.

Tynan is a key account manager at Georgia Power now and the class chairwoman for Leadership Augusta class of 2012. Organizing monthly gatherings and arranging speakers for this new crop of leaders is something that thrills her.

“They’re potential leaders, all of them. This is an opportunity for them to explore their community with others,” she said.

In November, the class had an Economic Development Day led by Charlene Sizemore, one of Leadership Augusta’s founders. The group toured the Kroc Center, the TEE Center, the XpedX facility and other locations directly related to attracting more industry to the area.

Jennifer Pennington, the executive director of the American Red Cross of Augusta and a member of the class of 2012, said she has already learned so much from her experience.

“I wanted to be a part of Leader­­ship Augusta because I had heard that this was a great way to get a behind-the-scenes view on what makes Augusta such a great place to live,” she said.

“We are just about at the halfway point of the program, and already we’ve had insightful conversations with local and state government officials on issues and opportunities facing Augusta.”

Leadership Augusta’s class of 2012 had 32 participants, all of whom had to go through a rigorous application and interview process to be accepted. The program comes with a $950 price tag and requires each participant to be available for class days throughout the training year.

Leadership Augusta is an extension of the Augusta-Metro Chamber of Commerce. Across the area,other leadership classes have sprung up in Columbia County, North Augusta, Lincoln County and Aiken.

Tammy Shepherd, the CEO of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, said these smaller programs have a unique draw that is valuable, especially in a region as diverse as this.

“The purpose behind leadership-development programs is to grow community leaders specifically for your community,” she said.

Shepherd said that the programs are in no way competing against one another, and several individuals have gone through both Leadership Augusta and Leadership Columbia County.

“It really just depends on what you’re looking for,” she said.

Leadership Columbia County keeps the class size under 25 people, and Shepherd said that is one of the strengths of the programs. Meaningful relationships with classmates is a priority within the program, and smaller classes means that everyone gets to know each other even better.

“You want these classes to really become close-knit,” she said. “The hope is that they use the knowledge to serve others.”