Leadership Nevada County is back with the Class of 2023

Leadership Nevada County Class of 2023 (left to right) James Gillard, Carlos Vanhook, Jennifer Robbins, April Lovette, Beronica Parrish, Shanta Wiley, Casey Autry, Tessa Oliver, Megan Horton, Caitlin Hunt

The Class of 2023 for Leadership Nevada County kicked off their year of events recently with a retreat at Oak Bower in Bismarck. The group of ten, hailing from a wide range of professions and backgrounds, participated in various learning activities geared for emerging leaders in the community, while also joining activities which would allow them to get to know one another better. This is the first Leadership Nevada County Class in a few years because of the pandemic, and Economic Development Director/Leadership Facilitator Mary Godwin said she and the Leadership Board of Directors are thrilled to be able to bring this program back into the community.

"We are very excited," Godwin said. "This program is very popular and very successful for development and support of emerging leaders in our community. Since it began in 2001, this program has graduated 143 people who have gone on to start new businesses, take on new leadership roles in the community, receive appointments as board members, and much more. We have a great group this year and we look forward seeing what they will accomplish, as well."

In this month's Prescott City Council meeting, Mayor and Leadership Board member Terry Oliver told council members that the retreat was a great opening for the year. "This group is very smart and they got along well together," Oliver said. "It'll be a great year."

Prescott's Parks and Recreation Director Carlos Vanhook is one of the participants in Leadership Nevada County's Class of 2023. He shared with SWARK.Today his thoughts on the opening retreat. "It was a pretty cool experience and also very informative," Vanhook said. "I learned quite a bit and made new friends who will be great contacts as we all move forward in learning new ways to serve the community. I am looking forward to what this next year brings."

Another member of this year's group is Beronica Parrish, Deputy Tax Assessor for Nevada County, and she said the retreat was a different, yet much-needed experience. "The retreat was very nice, and also a new experience for me" Parrish said. "It definitely took me out of my comfort zone to take on this new role through our activities, but it allowed me to learn a great deal and meet people from all walks of life that I would've never met otherwise. I hope that this year I continue to branch out even further so I can learn more about how to serve my community and inspire others, while having them inspire me, as well."

Throughout the next year, the Class of 2023 will meet monthly to explore and learn more about various topics such as state government, education, law enforcement, cultural diversity, local history, economic development, and much more. An example that took place during the retreat was the class took a field trip to DeGray Lake for an Eagle Tour to learn more about the ecology of the area and the workings of the state park system. Other field trips on this year's itinerary include locations like the state capitol, ALETA (Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy), the Nevada County Courthouse, and other pertinent areas of civic and community operations. Throughout the year, the Class of 2023 will also be taking classes to learn techniques and styles in leadership, working on service projects that will benefit the community, and performing independent reports regarding successful and popular leadership reading materials.

The Leadership Nevada County Mission Statement says the program is "designed to build a competent leadership pool, motivate emerging and existing leaders, and develop the participants’ potential for community leadership and decision-making by exposing them to the realities, strengths, resources, and needs of our area." Throughout this next year as the class dives deep into the inner workings of the community, Prescott and Nevada County citizens are likely to meet a few, or all, of the Leadership Nevada County Class of 2023. They are as follows:

James Gillard - Nevada County Library
Carlos Vanhook - Prescott Parks and Recreation Director
Jennifer Robbins - Prescott High School Counselor
April Lovette - SWARK.Today Community Reporter
Beronica Parrish - Nevada County Deputy Tax Assessor
Shanta Wiley - City of Prescott Water & Light
Casey Autry - Prescott Police Department
Tessa Oliver - Nevada School District Special Education Teacher
Megan Horton - City of Prescott Water & Light
Caitlin Hunt - Holcim Process Engineer