Leadership Clayton graduates Class of 2013

Photo by Johnny Jackson 
Leadership Clayton held its annual commencement ceremony recently honoring 13 program graduates.

Photo by Johnny Jackson Leadership Clayton held its annual commencement ceremony recently honoring 13 program graduates.

MORROW — Gary Dubose is part of the latest class of graduates in Leadership Clayton.

Leadership Clayton is a leadership development program sponsored by the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce.

Dubose is the programs director for the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office. He said he was referred by a colleague and has no regrets about joining the program.

“It was definitely challenging,” Dubose said. “But it was worth it.”

Applicants must demonstrate leadership ability and possess a commitment to community service as the program engages would-be leaders in a rigorous nine-month calendar of activities designed to develop those leadership skills.

Members of the Class of 2013 included Dubose, Kimberly Allen, Robert Alpert, Lehome Bliss, An’cel Davis, Sharnette Dennis, Terrica Ganxy, K’ Paezle Harris, Royshad Hodges, Cheryl Keith, Gabrielle Starr, Stephen Sullivan and Kara Wright.

The graduates heard from keynote speaker James E. “Jim” Crissey of Southern Regional Health System during commencement ceremonies June 6 at the Clayton State University Activities Center.

The event included remarks from Natasha Hutson, the director of Clayton State’s student activities center and department of campus life.

Hutson, like others attending the ceremonies, is a graduate of Leadership Clayton. She participated in the Class of 2010 and later joined the Leadership Clayton Advisory Board.

Coylitia O’Neal is a 2009 graduate and a member of the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. She said her experience with the program inspired her to continue in leadership roles with the chamber.

“It gave me an opportunity to learn more about the community and hone my leadership skills,” said O’Neal.

O’Neal reflected on how the program’s class projects helped her and her colleagues form the nonprofit Helping Us Grow Strong program designed to help area children in need — foster kids in particular.

Leadership Clayton asks its members to commit to community service-oriented projects each year and continue those projects after graduation, she said.

Before members can graduate, they must attend a class meeting once a month and contribute to individual group projects throughout the month. From September through May, the class is involved in activities and session in which they meet and hear from local officials and community leaders.

Laurence Nelson is the director of Clayton County Department of Family and Children Services. He said he was challenged during his time with the Class of 2007. He is now secretary on the advisory board.

“I was glad that I made it through,” he said. “It’s a rigorous program.”

Graphics designer Gerrian Hawes graduated in the Class of 2009.

“It really introduced me to the business world and was a great way to get to know the leaders of the community,” she said.

Hawes is continuing her work with Leadership Clayton by helping re-ignite the program’s alumnae association.

“There are more than 30 years of leadership grads,” she said.

Leadership Clayton Advisory Board Chairwoman Angela Redding confirmed hundreds of community leaders have gone through the program since its 1972 inception. She graduated the program in 2003 and has been chair since 2004.

“It’s always great to see a new group of leaders going out into the community,” said Redding. “It’s a great program that has developed so many of our leaders.”