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Leadership Fredericksburg to hit 275 total graduates this year

2017 class president Jeremy Pickwell from Lifepoint Church talks with Martha Hutzel from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library

By Chris Muldrow / Fredericksburg Today

The Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce is opening the application process for the 11th class of the Leadership Fredericksburg program as its 10th class nears graduation day.

The nine-month course is designed to build leadership skills across businesses, nonprofits and governments in the Fredericksburg region.

Susan Spears, president of the Chamber, said that the program has been a great way to build strong relationships among the local business community.

“The Chamber is committed to building relationships and creating competitive advantages for a healthy business environment,” Spears said. “Leadership Fredericksburg’s results over time demonstrate that it is one of the top ways we meet our mission. More than half of our board of directors are LF graduates, and they are leading the Chamber with key leadership skills and values they honed during their time in the program. We are also leading the conversations about important issues that affect our region.”

The program has four key components. Chamber President Susan Spears; J.R. Flatter of Flatter and Associates; Dave Corderman of Academy Leadership Associates; and graduates from earlier Leadership Fredericksburg classes conduct intensive leadership training with the leadership fellows. Community leaders from the public and private sectors speak to the classes about their own “leadership journeys.” Fellows are paired up with mentors who work with them throughout the session. And teams of fellows work with a selection of local community groups on projects designed to benefit the community.

“It pleases me beyond measure to see the ripple effect of our premier program all throughout our community,” Spears said. “We focus on understanding and managing yourself first and then understanding how to better manage the relationships around you. Also, ethics and leadership values are woven throughout the program.”

Spears said the program is not strictly for new leaders in an organization.

“Leadership Fredericksburg is a program about leadership for leaders,” Spears said. “We’ve had CEOs, vice-presidents, senior executives, business owners, and managers of all levels, to include those that are newer in their professional leadership journey. The common thread is demonstrated leadership examples, which each applicant is able to share through the program application process. Some of our top applications have come from individuals who have extensive community leadership involvement and not as much professional leadership.”

Julie Rettinger, the Vice President, Branding & Chief Administrative Officer for Rappahannock Goodwill Industries, Inc., said that the program helps equip leaders with strong skills.

The 2017 class on St. Patrick’s Day.

“Leadership Fredericksburg offers emerging leaders and established leaders the opportunity to build a toolkit,” said Rettinger, who was the 2013 class president. “Armed with heightened community awareness, practical tips on handling real-world situations, grounding in leadership theory, and an expanded professional network of other local leaders, individuals graduate from LF ready to tackle the challenges of leading in the Fredericksburg region.”

The program is held at locations all over the region. The 2017 class will present its community projects Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. in Sealy Auditorium at Germanna’s Workforce and Technology Center.

The current class will graduate at a public ceremony on May 19th at 3 p.m. at UMW’s Jepson Alumni Center. When they graduate, there will be more than 275 alumni.

The Leadership Fredericksburg program accepts approximately 27 participants annually. Each applicant submits an application coupled with a supporting letter of recommendation. Applicants are chosen by a selection committee.

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