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Guests at Profiles breakfast learn about LEADERship Ashtabula County

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ASHTABULA - Guests at the Profiles of Ashtabula County Breakfast Speaker series on Wednesday, Dec. 5, learned a little more about LEADERship Ashtabula County.

Speaking last Wednesday at the series were LEADERship Executive Director Laura Jones and Associate Director/Program Coordinator Debbi Waring.

Every month, Profiles of Ashtabula County features speakers from various sectors of the community who share ideas and experiences on trying to make the county a better place to live, work and play. The series is held at 8 a.m. on the first Wednesday of the month at Kent State University at Ashtabula.

The mission of the series is to help raise awareness of projects that affect everyone and share strengths of the county, according to officials.

Jones spoke on the topic of "LEADERship Ashtabula County: 25 Years of Encouraging Civic Endeavor."

Twenty-five years ago, community leaders gathered and decided the time was right to start an organization like LEADERship, Jones said. She said that Bey Blanchard (founder of Plasticolors, Inc.) led the creation of it, and Marta Stone was hired as the first executive director.

LEADERship has a mission statement of “We encourage, educate and stimulate individuals to become familiar with, interested in and engaged in all facets of civic endeavor,” Jones said.

LEADERship fulfills this mission statement through different programs, including its 10-month  Adult Signature Class, YOUth LEADERship program and 11 years of presenting the "Discover the Highlights of Ashtabula County” one-day event.

“We are a network of individuals working individually and collectively to strengthen the community,” Jones said.

The first LEADERship class had 27 members, Jones said. Since it began, over 650 graduates have gone through it. There also has been over 700 YOUth LEADERship graduates.

“It opens up high schoolers’ eyes to what is here,” Jones said.

Jones said the LEADERship class spends time creating awareness about Ashtabula County’s heritage, assets, opportunities and challenges. Class members explore different areas of the county, from agriculture, business and industry, health and human services, schools and more. Part of this exploration involves visiting different places involved in those industries.

To celebrate the organization’s 25th year, Jones said a celebration of its 25th year will be held Feb. 23. Graduates are also being asked to donate $25 to honor the anniversary.

Kent State University Ashtabula, LEADERship Ashtabula County, The Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County and Gazette Newspapers are sponsors of the 2012-2013 Profiles of Ashtabula County Breakfast Speaker series.



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