Leadership River Region graduates Class of 2023

Published 1:00 am Saturday, June 10, 2023

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LULING — Over the past 10 months, Leadership River Region has introduced a cohort of business professionals to opportunities for team-building, personal growth, and community engagement.

Twenty-seven participants were honored at a graduation ceremony Tuesday evening at Legacy Venue in Luling. A closing retreat marked the end of the program, which included seven monthly, half-day sessions on community and economic development; diversity, equity and inclusion, education, governmental affairs, healthcare, public policy, and arts, culture and tourism.

The Class of 2023 included LaSandra Gordon, Micah Andrade, Marilyn Bellock, Chris Cole, Garrett Monti, Maggie Brantley, Darlinta Garrison, Zach Vicknair, Renee Toups, Raychelle Harris, Laurie Webb, Dan Mills, Donna Palahang, Courtney Tomlinson, Holly Keller, Marcus Hollis, Glen Duncan, Chabry Marks, Katy Jackson, Iana Joseph, Tyler Morvant, Chase Grob, Brandy Spencer-Byrd, Alexandra Hernández, Dana Brown, Tasha Nelms and ShiTara Sanders.

Leadership River Region program director Diane Jackson, who also serves as the 2023 Chairwoman for the River Region Chamber of Commerce, is excited to see the impact graduates will have on their communities.

“One of the biggest lessons from the class is exposing them to essentially how things work across the tri-parish area of St. John, St. James and St. Charles. We have also created a really unique leadership development experience for each session,” Jackson said. “My hope is that as they move forward, leaving this program, that they get involved with the good work our Chamber does.”

Participant Raychelle Harris, owner of Harris Legal Support Services in LaPlace, said each session was composed of invigorating topics.

“As an aspiring servant, Leadership River Region has indeed fortified my self-awareness journey,” Harris said. “This experience has provided vital concepts and tools needed to flourish as an effective leader. During these past months, I was afforded the opportunity to experience substantive subject-matter experts.”

Leadership River Region stands out from other leadership programs by incorporating a personality profile known as Emergenetics into each session. Based on preferences, the profile sorts individuals into four categories: social reds, analytical blues, structural greens, and conceptual yellows.

According to Jackson, each “color” has an important role in the workplace. Reds are intuitive when it comes to working with others, while blues and greens keep the entire team organized and moving forward. Meanwhile, yellows have a knack for brainstorming and seeing the big picture.

“We’d like to educate them as leaders in our community to focus more on working through their strengths as opposed to trying to change who they are intuitively,” Jackson said.

The Leadership River Region program dedicates two sessions to parish perspectives, giving participants a closer look into how local government operates. By becoming elected councilmembers of the fictional “Pontchartrain Parish,” participants learned how to make decisions relative to demographics and available resources.

Diversity and inclusion has been an enduring aspect of the Leadership River Region program, kickstarting conversations about embracing the differences and the capabilities that all parties bring to the table.

During the program’s inception in 2014-2015, Leadership River Region welcomed 15 participants. This year’s cohort has been the largest thus far with 27 participants, and Jackson said the goal for 2024 is to increase that number to 35.

“Some other leadership programs have 45, 55 participants. We are looking to cap it out at 35. We like to keep it small for the cohorts to really get to know one another and build lasting relationships,” she said.

The application is live for the 2024 Leadership River Region program, which will kick off in September. For more information, visit http://www.riverregionchamber.org/leadership-river-region or email leadership@riverregionchamber.org.