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Leadership Putnam County graduates 17 members of the class of 2017

By Ben Calwell, Metro Reporter
BEN CALWELL | Putnam Review
The Leadership Putnam County class of 2017 graduated June 8 in a ceremony at Sleepy Hollow Golf Club. Leadership Putnam County is a nine-week leadership development course of the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce.
Cheri Bever of Goodwill Industries of the Kanawha Valley speaks to graduates of Leadership Putnam County during a breakfast ceremony June 8 at Sleepy Hollow Golf Club.

After nine weeks of delving into the inner workings of Putnam County, graduates of the latest Leadership Putnam County program have a better understanding of the county in which they live or work.

In a graduation ceremony June 8 at Sleepy Hollow Golf Club, 17 members of the class of 2017 received their awards for having completed the program, which met on nine consecutive Thursday mornings at various locations in Putnam County.

Leadership Putnam County is a program of the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, said its interim president, Ashley Alford.

“It’s in its 28th year,” Alford said. “It’s a nine-week leadership development course.”

Leadership Putnam County is designed to give business professionals an inside look at various aspects of the county, ranging from education, to health care, to industry, recreation and law enforcement, to name just a few.

“We take a class of business professionals throughout the county for nine consecutive Thursday mornings; they learn about all the industries that make Putnam County the great place that it is,” Alford said.

A big part of the program is taking tours of various facilities, manufacturing plants and governmental offices in Putnam County.

“They get to go on tours of places that they may not necessarily get to go; they get to interact with elected officials and government agencies and learn the ins and outs of what their organizations do to make the county run the way that it does,” she said.

A few of the places where Leadership Putnam County participants visited this year included the AEP John Amos Power Plant, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, the Western Regional Jail and CAMC Teays Valley. The participants also listened to a variety of guest speakers.

“On any given day, they could have up to 10 speakers speaking to them that day.”

Additionally, each participant was asked to attend at least one public meeting in Putnam County, such as a commission meeting, council meeting or planning commission meeting.

This year’s graduating class includes:

Bethany Adkins of the Putnam County Library; Bill Andreas, Habitat For Humanity; Savanna Browning, City National Bank; Stephanie Casey, Charleston Marriott; Stephanie Taylor Ciavarello, Yeager Insurance; Kelli Dailey, Putnam County Convention and Visitors Bureau; James Eads, AEP-John Amos; D.C. Faulkner, Pioneer WV Federal Credit Union; Megan Keffer, DOW; Tyler May, City National Bank; Justin Meadows, AEP-John Amos; Rachel Roberts, DOW; Bob Saunders, Charleston Newspapers/Putnam Review; Kevin Underwood, AEP-John Amos; R.J. Vanater, TruView; Ken Wilkins, White Bird Aerial and Bob Shaw, Toyota Motor Manufacturing.

Dailey, executive director of the Putnam County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said being part of Leadership Putnam County was a gratifying experience.

“It was wonderful; it was a great opportunity to learn about so many great organizations in Putnam County and also the chance to meet people in leadership throughout the county,” Dailey said.

She particularly enjoyed the tours of the John Amos Power Plant, Toyota Motor Manufacturing and Goodwill Industries.

“It was eye-opening to see how things operate -- it was fascinating,” she said.

Ken Wilkins, owner of Hurricane-based White Bird Aerial Imaging LLC, which provides professional drone services, said he benefited from Leadership Putnam County.

“It was great; it was a good opportunity to get around the county and look at the leadership of the other departments and agencies in the county and to learn how everything fits together and works,” Wilkins said.

Bob Shaw, an assistant manager at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, said the Leadership Putnam County experience helped him understand more about the county.

“I had a great time; it was an eye-opening experience. There are are a lot of things going on in the community that I wasn’t aware of before this, so it was a good thing,” said Shaw, who is orginally from Indiana.

Bill Andreas, development director for Habitat For Humanity of Kanawha and Putnam, is another Leadership Putnam County graduate.

“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity to meet a lot of people that are business leaders in Putnam County. I’ve learned a lot about the different business sectors, whether it’s health, education or judicial. It’s broadened my view of what I know in Putnam County,” Andreas said.

Each year, there is space for 20 Leadership Putnam County participants.

“You just have to sign up. Every spring, we offer 20 spots, and it’s first-come, first-served,” Alford said. “Anybody that works for a Putnam County business or anybody that just wants learn about Putnam County” can sign up for Leadership Putnam County.

She said the program couldn’t exist without the support of Putnam County businesses, organizations, elected officials and speakers that volunteer their time to help business professionals and others learn more about Putnam County.

“Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do it,” Alford said.

For more information about Leadership Putnam County, visit or call 304-757-6510.


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