Clayton County GrassRoots: Looking for future leaders

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

The Clayton County GrassRoots Leadership Institute (GRLI) is still accepting applications for the 2011 training program, in an effort to give more time, and opportunity, to interested, potential participants.

"We want to create a lager pool of applicants," said Kim Allen, GRLI spokesperson.

Allen said GRLI is a 12-week course offered to participants who are seeking to spruce up their leadership skills, and learn the following: Effective communication skills; how to conduct successful meetings; how to build partnerships and collaborations; how to perform conflict resolution; the keys to group-decision-making/problem-solving; and understanding poverty issues and diversity.

"GRLI is a program that is funded through a subsidized grant from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, along with other fund-raising efforts," said Allen. She added, "The purpose for GRLI is to identify, train and nurture emerging leaders to better serve the needs of the Clayton County community."

GRLI Board Member Cheryl White said, "GrassRoots provides an opportunity for self-growth. Its dual purpose [is] to develop those, who have not had any exposure to leadership, and to help further develop someone, who already possesses basic leadership skills and knowledge."

Joy Tellis Cooper, a 2010 Grassroots graduate, and also this year's chairperson, strongly agreed that being a part of GrassRoots will help participants with self-growth and interpersonal skills. "It's very important, and it helps with your personal and professional goals," she said. "You also learn how to deal with the dynamics of a team."

Cooper said another highlight of being involved in GrassRoots, is that class participants create group projects that are presented during the last day of class. Last year, she and her classmates, she said, put together an "Empowerment Fair" for the Clayton County community. Class members worked in committees to gather Clayton County's businesses and community-based organizations, and brought them together in one central location. The class then invited the community to the event, so people would be able to see what various resources are available to them in the county.

The upcoming class "will be able work on their own project and make it their own." said Cooper.

Some other notable GRLI graduates include: Board of Education Vice Chairman Charlton Bivins; Adolphus Graves, of the Clayton County Juvenile Court; former Clayton County Council PTA President Cyd Cox; Community Advocate and BOE Ethics Commission Member Larry O'Keefe, and "We Are Clayton" Magazine Publisher Gerian Hawes.

Allen said, "All class sessions will be held on Tuesday evenings, for three hours, and will be taught local government and economic development community leaders."

She added that once the selections for this year's class have been made, there will be a meet-and-greet, on July 26, at the Clayton County Police Department Community Center, in Jonesboro.

Anyone interested in participating in this year's GrassRoots class, can go to the web site at: www.claytongaempowerment.org, and download the application. "There is an application fee of $25," Allen said, "and classes will begin Aug. 2." For more information, call (770) 473-3945.