by Chris Comer
Leadership Kernersville is a ten month program that has a rich history of involvement from community leaders dating back to the initial class in 1992. Beginning with a kickoff in August, each month offers a new opportunity to learn about your community. A special bond builds among class members, in addition to the opportunity to meet community leaders. One Thursday each month you will look forward to attending from August through May, I know I did.
This time of year brings thoughts of graduation, from pre-school to impending graduation from college. I begin to reminisce about my graduation experiences and right there at the top is the Leadership Kernersville class of 1997. I still have connections with those in my class. Yes, some have come and gone, but those that are still in the area are true friends.
I will never forget the first day we met. We played the speed dating game (which was big in 1997). I learned a bit about each of my 19 classmates that day. Little did I know this would be the beginning of lasting friendships and business relationships.
Each of the days was fun and we learned so much about our town. Each day had a different theme: YMCA Camp Hanes Team Building, Leadership Development, Human Services and Community Projects, Government, Police Services, Education, History of Kernersville, Economic Development, Health Services and Graduation.
Team building at YMCA Camp Hanes was very eventful with my team being full of men, large men. The interesting point is that you never know who the leader will be until you get to the first square. There were 5 of us on a 30 inch x 30 inch piece of ply wood 9 feet off the ground. We moved from square to square six times. Had I not trusted my team, I would still be up there.
History Day was another favorite, where the historians of Kernersville told us all about Jule Körner, Körner’s Folly, and the history of Kernersville. Jule was a pioneer that would set the tone for the success of Kernersville as we know it today.
What fun we had on police day. I was not lucky enough to wear the drunken goggles, but our teammates were. They were a bit disoriented, and were able to describe to everyone how hard it was to walk a straight line.
One of the exciting opportunities, for me, was to drive around with a police officer. I still remember Lieutenant Watson to this day. He probably remembers me as well! It was one of my favorite experiences.
I remember to this day our Leadership rock garden project. We thought the mulch would never end. The rock garden is located beside the chamber and still holds beautiful plants today. What a fun time we had all working together, building relationships, and lifelong memories.
Jason Grubbs, Jeff Jordan, and I still reminisce about our experiences. We were even able to organize a Leadership Kernersville Day together as Alumni at YMCA Camp Hanes, by far our favorite day!
To my delight, when I arrived back in Kernersville to work at the Chamber in December I was able to visit on Government Services Day. It was great to meet each of those in the class. There were quite a few familiar faces. I still felt the same feeling of honor being in the room with such a fantastic group of people!
I take pride in being a Leadership Kernersville Alum, as I am sure each of those that have participated in the class this year does as well. If you want to be a part of the next class please contact the Chamber. Those that are chosen will be notified in July.
The fantastic group of leaders from the class of 2013-2014 spent every second Thursday of the month since August together. Their employers were very supportive of their work in the community and made sure they were available to get the most from the program. They also worked together to bring Kernersville two great projects: Feed the Heart and The Pet Haven Project.
Feed the Heart was a great event to meet each of the nonprofits in Kernersville. I loved the opportunity to sign up as a volunteer for each of these groups all under one roof in one day. I am a volunteer at heart, so this was a great day to feed my heart.
The Pet Haven Project, a dog wash for donations, is a fundraising project with Next Step Ministries to provide temporary boarding for animals of domestic violence victims while they are relocated to a safer, stable living environment. The costume contest was high on my list with most creative, best personality, most adorable, and scariest. Pets are a part of many families in our area and are near and dear to Kernersville residents’ hearts.
I asked the class if they had one word to describe Leadership Kernersville what would that word be. Leadership Kernersville is informative, engaging, developmental, enlightening, insightful, innovative, unique, and an outstanding experience full of team and relationship building that each person involved took pride in.
Congratulations Leadership Kernersville Class of 2014! You are an Alumni of Leadership Kernersville. My hopes are that you have fond memories of a fantastic year with fantastic people. Good Luck and thank you for your leadership in the community.
Leadership Kernersville: Class of 2013-2014:
Fran Little: Deere Hitachi
Jonathan Hegedus: Kernersville Elementary
Bruce Hennequin: Town of Kernersville
Crystal Norman: Home Loving Senior Care
Tom Kipp: Grass America
Joseph Orenstein: Coltrane & Grubbs, PLLC
Elizabeth Stahnke: Berkshire Hathaway
HomeServices Carolinas Realty
Rob Cook: Russell & Cook Insurance
Scott Cunningham: Town of Kernersville
John Gann: Piedmont Garage Doors
Nicole McKinney: New Beginnings Assembly
Zach Nichols: Wells Fargo
Cobb Atkinson: Westchester Country Day
Ryan McGirr: BB&T
Joey Herman: Best Logistics Group
Candace Williams: Novant Health
Kernersville Medical Center
Angela Shoffner: SEO Rocket