By Brian Livingston / email@example.com
The Meridian Star
Maj. Gen. Leon Collins, commander of the Mississippi National Guard, knows a little about leadership. He commanded the 155th Brigade Combat Team in Iraq and is now leading all National Guard personnel in the state.
As he scanned the crowd at the Riley Center in downtown Meridian Tuesday morning, Collins noted the 33 graduates of the Leadership Lauderdale program being recognized have reached a milestone but in no way should they rest on their laurels.
"Never stop," said Collins, who was the guest speaker for the Leadership Lauderdale graduation. "Use what you have learned. You always have something to offer your community."
Sponsored by the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation, the Leadership Lauderdale program began in order to provide existing and emerging leaders with opportunities to enhance their civic knowledge and civic network.
For more than 10 years, this program has helped participants better understand how the local community works, teaches them how to build relationships with area leaders and inspires them to focus their talents to best serve the community. During the nine-month course the students learn how to use leadership skills to benefit themselves, their company and the community.
"Leadership Lauderdale participants develop the leadership skills necessary to assume leadership roles and also become exposed to involvement opportunities in the community," said Wade Jones, president of the EMBDC.
Leadership Lauderdale is jointly presented by EMBDC, Meridian Community College, Mississippi Power Company and 1st Mississippi Federal Credit Union.
Michelle Thames of the EMBDC said Leadership Lauderdale gives participants an in depth learning experience in the local community in ways they had not thought of in the past.
"The program inspires them to be more effective and to use their knowledge and talents for the betterment of the community," Thames said. "It makes them think so they can be more involved in their community."
Collins said there are several ways to be successful in the approach to business and community. He offered up one caveat for those graduates to remember when trying to apply what they've learned.
"Give the people what they want," Collins said. "Not what you want them to have."