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The Chamber Gadsden - Etowah County
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Leadership Etowah

Leadership Etowah


Leadership Etowah is a program of The Chamber of Gadsden/Etowah which each year brings together a class of ten participants for ten one-day retreats. The program objective is to present to the participants a series of issues-oriented forums based on the belief that knowledge is a key element and prime motivator of leadership. Class members visit organizations and institutions across Etowah County. This allows them to seek a mutual understanding of the priorities and problems facing the county; they also seek to invent vital solutions to the challenges that define the future of our county. Program participants will gain a broader understanding of the complexities that our diverse community represents. Participants will leave the program prepared to use the information and skills they will gain from this experience to be a leader in the community.

From our first meeting to our Graduation Ceremony, students are informed, engaged and encouraged to make a difference in their own personal, individual way. We visit organizations and institutions through the year, challenging participants to listen, learn, teach, think and do with an expanded, broader vision of the paths to take to move our county forward and to better the quality of life for all citizens.



Leadership Etowah is a personal development program designed to motivate participants to develop and enhance leadership skills through an educational process that addresses pertinent community needs.

Our success in meeting the challenges before us depends on the active involvement of informed, dedicated citizens who have the ability and desire to assume positions of leadership—people like you.



The purpose of Leadership Etowah is to:

  • Identify potential and existing leaders in business, labor, education, government and the community at large and help them prepare for voluntary responsibility in our area.
  • Provide leaders with practical and sophisticated understanding of major opportunities and problems facing the Etowah County area.
  • Facilitate access between emerging leaders and the current leadership in the community.
  • Improve the communications network among leaders from unique and different backgrounds.
  • Stimulate increased participation and commitment in the community.


The Leadership Etowah program consists of ten monthly topic-oriented one-day seminars from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and a graduation ceremony. Attendance is mandatory.

The goal of each session is to open the mind of each participant to the perspectives that surround the issue and, through thoughtful consideration of those perspectives, to enable participants to become visionary leaders in the community. (Class order is subject to change.)

Session I—Orientation to Leadership
Session II—Non-Profits and Social Services
Session III—Education
Session IV—Workforce Development
Session V—Government
Session VI—Healthcare
Session VII—Arts and Culture
Session VIII—Economic Development  
Session IX—Tourism
Session X—Public Safety


2017 Class Dates

  • January10
  • February 14
  • March 14
  • April 11
  • May 9 + 2 additional days TBD for a Wednesday-Thursday overnight stay in Montgomery to visit the legislative session
  • June 13
  • August 11
  • September 8
  • October 12
  • November 10
  • November 17 - Graduation begins at 5:30 p.m.


  • Demonstrated desire to serve the community by past civic activities.
  • Willing to seek leadership roles on public and private boards, in volunteer organizations, or in public office
  • Motivated to improve skill set
  • Have potential for advancement to leadership positions in their own organization, or already in a leadership position
  • Have an occupation in which they will not likely be relocating from the county in the immediate future
  • Commit to participate fully, meet attendance requirements, and as alumni continue for at least one year their involvement with the program as resource persons, program planners, Board Members or other roles as needed
  • Have a letter of recommendation or support of participation from their employer

Participants are selected based on leadership abilities or potential, career goals, volunteer activities, contributions to their communities, and commitment to help shape a better Etowah County. Participants are diverse and do not share a common age, gender, lifestyle, career or hometown; but what they do share is a vision of what Etowah County can and must be as we move forward. And they share the ability to lead our county to that visionary future.


Leadership Partners

  • Huntingdon College
  • The University of Alabama Gadsden Center
  • Gadsden State Community College
  • Jacksonville State University
  • Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
  • Honda Manufacturing of Alabama
  • Alabama Power
  • The Chamber, Gadsden/Etowah County


Cost: $500 per participant for members, $600 for non-members



Current Class

  • Dustin Lawhorn
    Dustin Lawhorn
    Human Resources Manager
    Inteva Products
  • Eddie Otralek
    Eddie Otralek
    Engineering Supervisor, Gadsden District
    Alabama Power Company
  • Farrah Hayes
    Farrah Hayes
    English Instructor
    Gadsden State Community College
  • Jay Hedgspeth
    Jay Hedgspeth
    Loan Officer
    First Federal Mortgage
  • Jennifer Wallace
    Jennifer Wallace
    Commercial Lender, AVP
    Exchange Bank of Alabama
  • Kimberly Gunter
    Kimberly Gunter
    Human Resource Specialist
    Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
  • Paul Cody
    Paul Cody
    Gadsden Police Department
  • Ruth Moffatt
    Ruth Moffatt
    211 First Call for Help
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