Regions Shenandoah Valley

Shenandoah program aims to develop local leaders

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Print this page by Stephenie Overman
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Board member Niki Wilson, and three class participants:
Whitney Hamrick, Melissa Boies and Rebekah Schennum.

The Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce is launching a program to train the next generation of local leaders and is taking other steps to help attract and retain young professionals.

Leadership Shenandoah County, set to begin in early September, involves a series of classes that will inform participants about aspects of the county’s government and economy.

Program topics include agriculture, tourism, education, health care, public safety, local and state government, business and industry, and nonprofits. The first class is scheduled to graduate in April.

“We’re growing our next generation of community and business leaders,” says Sharon Baroncelli, the chamber’s executive director. “We want people to understand what resources there are in the community” to join area businesses and to start their own businesses.

Baroncelli, who became executive director in January, is familiar with leadership programs in the state. She previously was executive director for the Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce and for the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber in Fairfax County.

Shenandoah, whose county seat is Woodstock, has a population of about 43,000.

“The leadership program fills a gap in our community that’s not filled by any other agency,” says Chris Boies, the vice president of the Shenandoah Chamber who is vice president of financial and administrative services at Lord Fairfax Community College. The goal is to “create a cohort of leaders in the county who have a set of knowledge for government, nonprofits and businesses.”

Boies, who chairs the new program, called it “a good vehicle for being able to see a wider perspective, to gain a lot of different input from organizations and to also help educate people about what’s here.”

In addition to Leadership Shenandoah County, Baroncelli says, “we’re also excited to start a new Young Professionals Program as we see a lot of our [local school] graduates returning to work in the county, coming back into the community. We thought it would be a great way to connect them all. We want to provide a networking environment.”

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