Leaders wrap up class

Published 3:00 am Thursday, June 15, 2017

“What kind of leader do you want to be?”

That’s the query Stephanie Baker posed to the newly minted graduates of Leadership Pike on Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s up to you to be an effective leader and a strong leader,” she told the class members during their graduation program. “But do you want to be a Christmas tree leader or a peach tree leader?”

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Baker was the keynote speaker for the graduation luncheon held at the Troy County Club on Wednesday. Fourteen men and women recently completed the program sponsored by the Pike County Chamber of Commerce. Baker congratulated the class members on their accomplishments in being selected for the program and completing its yearlong curriculum. She also challenged the members to spend time considering their role as leaders moving forward.

Pulling on information gleaned from Donnie Smith, retired CEO of Tyson Foods, Baker explained the two forms of leadership.

“Christmas tree leadership is from the top down,” she said. “And the star is at the top … if you think about a peach tree, it grows from the ground up and its stump is the leader. The stump is where the foundation, the resources, the nurturing are and the peach gets to be the start. It’s the fruit that grows from the tree that really gets noticed.”

Baker is a graduate of the Leadership Pike program and a two-time president of the Chamber. She serves as Director of Market Development at KW Plastics Recycling and was recently elected to the Troy City Council. She is active in numerous community organizations, as well as First Baptist Church and its missions programs. “I am a servant leader,” she said. “And I am choosing to be a servant leader every day, because it’s a daily choice.”

Moreover, she said, service is at the heart of our shared humanity. “Not everyone was created to lead, but we were all created to serve,” she said.

In addition to Baker’s challenge, class president Spencer Thomas shared his reflections on the year and the class. “We’ve had a good year, a good class, and I can speak from experience when I say we learned a lot about our community,” he said.

Graduates and their sponsoring businesses included Thomas, Troy Cable; Rebecca Blankenship, Troy University; Jonathan Blair, KW Plastics; Druid Conrad, New York Life Insurance; Jason Durant, Troy Church; Jonathan Everage, Moseley Industrial; Scott Gardner, Sikorsky Aircraft Company; Whitney Godbold, Troy Bank and Trust; Mallory Johnson, Sanbuck Inc.; Mary Neel McBride, The City of Troy; Brittney Meyer, The Messenger; Shondra Whitaker, Pike County Schools; Gary Wilbert, Troy University Athletics; and Heath Wesley, First South Farm Credit.

Applications for the 2017-2018 Leadership Pike class will be available through the Pike County Chamber of Commerce in July. Anyone wanting more information can contact the Chamber at 334-566-2294.