Leadership Shelby County

By: Jeff Stephenson, P.E., PTOE

My career started at Sain Associates way back in 1998. In 2002, my wife Jamie and I decided to move to Pelham after living in Tuscaloosa and Hoover for several years. We’ve been living there ever since and have become fairly active within the community. In 2016-2017, I was inspired by Jennifer Brown, a co-worker and resident of Springville who participated in a program called Leadership St. Clair County. After speaking with Jennifer about her experience with the class, I decided to look for opportunities to become more involved in my home county. I spoke with company leadership about applying to participate in Leadership Shelby County. Not only did they like the idea, but I was blessed to have an owner of the company, Joe Meads, nominate me. And now, I’m happy to say that I’m a 2019 graduate of Leadership Shelby County!

I received acknowledgement of my nomination and an invitation to apply to the class in May 2018. After completing and submitting the application, I learned in July 2018 that I had been accepted as one of the approximately 40 participants of the 2018-2019 class.

The class kicked off with a welcome breakfast in August 2018, where all of the upcoming 2018-2019 participants were recognized. In September 2018, all of the class participants attended a two-day retreat at the 4-H Center in Columbiana. The retreat gave class participants an opportunity to get to know each other, participate in teaming activities and competitions, and assemble into groups that would each be required to develop and produce a project for the class. One of my favorite parts of the September retreat was the way that participants were introduced to the class, which as it turns out, is one of the rich traditions of the class. So I don’t spoil it for potential future class participants, I will leave it at that!

Between October 2018 and April 2019, the class met for a full day on the second Tuesday of each month to learn about the history of Shelby County and different areas of focus within the County.

  • October 2018 – Shelby County Day
  • November 2018 – Education Day
  • December 2018 – Economic Development Day
  • January 2019 – Justice System Day
  • February 2019 – Healthcare Day
  • March 2019 – Government Day
  • April 2019 – Quality of Life Day

Each class involved a field-trip to visit locations within the County that corresponded with the theme of that class day. For example, we visited several local schools on Education Day to learn more about the history of the schools and what they are doing to promote leadership and local community involvement. I learned so much that I didn’t know about Shelby County over the course of these class days, and it gave me a unique perspective and appreciation of how each area of focus contributes positively to the County.

Before I could turn around, class graduation was upon us. Graduation took place in May 2019. Not only was it a day of celebration for completing the program, but it was also exciting because each group had an opportunity to present their class project. My group decided to develop a project that strives to bridge a gap between available resources and public school administrators to better assist children and families in need – items such as clothes, shoes, glasses, field trip money, and participation fees, or anything that would help these school children to be afforded the same opportunities to be successful. We named our project “Resource Discovery Shelby County.”

We have already conducted a half-day planning session with over 50 counselors and administrators from Shelby County Schools, Alabaster City Schools, and Pelham City Schools in an effort to develop a sustainable annual professional development opportunity and brainstorm on ways to better connect resources to children through school administrators. We are proud to be holding our first professional development session soon on September 10, 2019.

The experience of participating in Leadership Shelby County was enjoyable and informative, and I am thankful for the new and strengthened friendships that came from participating in the class. If you are looking to become a member of a leadership network and get more involved in the community, I would encourage you to investigate Leadership Shelby’s counterpart in your home city or county.

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