Leadership Wyoming Class of 2019 graduates include (seated, from right) Brenna Coolbaugh, Kenda Peck, Lauren Jenkins, Bonnie Morris, Linda Falcone, Amy Paciej-Woodruff, (standing) Adam Arcolani, Robert Cragle, John Pittenger, Tim Ballman, Brenna Coolbaugh, Ricky Roso, Debra Tierney, Joe Benko, Dylan Grunza, Kristie Baker, Timmy Jennings and Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce president Gina Suydam.
Photos and story by Rick Hiduk
(Exclusive to Endless Mountains Lifestyles)
Seventeen employees representing as many local businesses were honored at a luncheon and presentation on Wednesday as the latest graduates of the Leadership Wyoming program. Held at Shadowbrook Inn & Resort, the event was the culmination of 10 months of learning about numerous facets of commerce and community resources and applying those lessons to a group project.
Leadership Wyoming, which is conducted by the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by many of its members, is designed to take program nominees beyond their own vocations and outside their comfort zones to introduce them to new and challenging situations. This year, they were tasked to work with each other to implement Employer Experience Day for Tunkhannock High School 10th graders.
Chamber president Gina Suydam (above) welcomed guests and thanked the companies who had provided this years students, noting that they were at various stages in their careers. It was the third year that some of the companies had nominated employees for the program, said Suydam, which is a substantial commitment considering the 90 lost to the employer hours per participant.
“The year for them is so incredible,” Suydam remarked. “I am grateful the employers see the value in this investment and the growth in their employees.”
Mostly in pairs, the classmates took turns at the podium sharing their memories of the year via a slide show that depicted the days they had gathered and the topics covered. The nine sessions included agriculture; heritage, culture and tourism; the natural gas industry; government and emergency services; health and wellness; economic development; and manufacturing. The group also participated in a two-day Leadership Retreat at Camp Kelly.
From the beginning, participants knew that they would be doing something monumental to continue the efforts made by the Leadership Class of 2018 to help Tunkhannock students narrow down their courses of study to better match their preferred career options. This year’s class decided to follow up last year’s Pathways to Career Fair with Employer Experience Day.
“Rather than bringing the businesses to the kids, we brought the kids to the businesses,” related class member Lauren Jenkins, a banquet manager at Shadowbrook Resort. The tenth graders were separated into two groups, each taking part in both an employee session and a group discussion with Keystone College representatives.
“We’re looking forward to seeing some of these students becoming leaders in our future workforce,” Jenkins stated.
Suydam noted at the start of Wednesday’s presentation that she enjoys seeing not only the personal and professional development of each of the participants but also the way in which each graduating class bonds. John Pittenger of Williams related that Manufacturing Day, the last time that the group would get together solely for the purpose of of learning and experiencing new things together, as “bittersweet.”
Class members offered a variety of reasons that others should consider enrolling in the Leadership program, including getting to know Wyoming County better. Kim Tonte of Community Bank said that the experience helped her redefine the meaning of leadership from “someone who holds a title” to “people who are adaptable, creative and able to teach others.”
Linda Falcone of Penn State Extension noted that this was the fourth Leadership program in which she had participated. “I am a firm believer in this program at any stage of your career,” she remarked.
Brenna Coolbaugh of Tyler Memorial Hospital told the audience that a fellow coworker whom she is encouraging to consider joining next year’s class questioned her fervent endorsement. Coolbaugh (above) told her, “I enjoyed it so much, I would do it again.”