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Leadership class holds graduation

Another class has made it through the Selma-Dallas County Leadership program, and program director Callie Nelson is excited to see them get to work.

Past classes are responsible for creating programs like Crime Stoppers and putting on events like the Alabama River Chili Cookoff. Other leadership graduates have served and currently serve on boards across Selma and Dallas County. Nelson said she can’t wait to see what the graduates of Class 23 do as they begin to serve as leaders in the community.

“We try to instill a passion for the community and the county, so when they finish the class, they are really just getting ready to work,” Nelson said. “They come in on day one and they’re like what did I get myself into. And at this point they are saying they know what they can do to help make a difference in the community.”

This year, 12 members graduated from the 10-month long program, where they learned about the community’s needs and the difference they can make. They toured businesses, learned about city and county government, and saw how nonprofits in the area do so much for people that live here.

“It was an awesome experience,” said Shelly McGee, one of Class 23’s graduates. “Going through this leadership class has given me more knowledge and skills to pull the community together to develop leaders in the community because we all know that if we can come together to work together, we’ll have a better community.”

McGee said the class taught her so much about what Selma has to offer.

“After being away from home for a long time I retired and moved back home, and it is amazing. I didn’t think Selma had a lot to offer, but Selma has a huge amount of resources. I just learned so much,” she said.

The program brings people together from different backgrounds and teaches them what it takes to be a leader.

“It gives you a lot of hope that people are willing to step up and fill those gaps and vacancies that maybe other leaders are no longer doing,” Nelson said.

‘It gives you hope and lets you know that Selma is going to be okay.”

Kelsie Lawrence, another Class 23 graduate, said going through the program was a life-changing experience.

“The amount of things I’ve learned about my city is incredible, the friendships I’ve made will last a lifetime, and the amount of knowledge I’ve taken in will be something no one can ever take from me,” she said as she spoke in front of her classmates.

Prince Chestnut, who was recently elected as the District 67 representative for the House, was the guest speaker.

“As graduates of Leadership Selma-Dallas County, you must decide what the next step will be,” Chestnut told the graduates. “Leadership is a part of life. As long as there is someone looking to you for guidance, you are a leader. You can be a willing leader or an unwilling leader. What is your desire?”

Each class takes on a project, such as Class IX with Crime Stoppers or Class XVIII with the chili cookoff, and this class has decided to plan a reunion for all graduates of the leadership program.

Applications are being accepted for Class 24 until June 1. Applications for leadership can be found at the Selma and Dallas County Chamber of Commerce and the Dallas County Extension Office. For more information, call Nelson’s office at 875-7241.