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New Leadership Clayton class graduates today

By Maria Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

High School seniors aren't the only ones being honored for their hard work and accomplishments during this season of commencement exercises and award ceremonies.

Today, 21 community leaders will graduate from Leadership Clayton, a program of the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce that has been helping to hone county leaders for 37 years.

The "Leadership Clayton Commencement Ceremony" will take place today, beginning at 5 p.m., at Clayton State University's student activity center, located at 2000 Clayton State Blvd., in Morrow.

Dinner will be served, and the keynote speaker will be state Rep. Mike Glanton (D-Ellenwood). The cost to attend is $25 for adults, and $15 for children under 12 years of age.

According to Chamber officials, participants in this new class were carefully chosen by the Leadership Clayton Advisory Board. Individuals, who are admitted to the program, are already active leaders in the companies, agencies and industries they represent. The program helps them gain the insight necessary to become even more effective leaders.

"I think it [this year's training] went very well," said Angela Redding, chairperson of the Leadership Clayton Advisory Board. "We had an incredible class, and just the projects they worked on were beyond what I expected."

Redding said each participant will receive a framed certificate for his or her efforts in the program. The winner of the 2009 "Leadership Award" will be announced during the ceremony.

The winner of the 2009 "Regional Leadership Institute Scholarship" will be announced as well, Redding said. The $1,900 scholarship is sponsored by the Atlanta Regional Commission, and the winner will use it to attend the 2009 Regional Institute Program on St. Simmons Island.

According to Yulonda Beauford, president and CEO of the Clayton Chamber, participants had an opportunity, during their sessions, to gain information about a variety of issues currently facing the county.

"As a part of their graduation requirement, they were required to attend a school board meeting, a city council meeting, and a county commission meeting, as well as two networking events in the community," Beauford said.

According to Beauford, participants were split into two groups, and given different projects to develop. One required leaders to create a non-profit organization that would benefit the community.

Through that organization, leaders were able establish a foster visitation center, so that foster children would have a comfortable place where they can visit their parents, or guardians in a home-like setting.

Another project is "The Leadership Clayton Alumni Association," in which leaders expect to establish a web site by July to promote community projects and community involvement.