Thirty-One Business Professionals graduate from Leadership Jackson program

December 15, 2017

LJ Class of 2017
2017 Leadership Jackson class

Thirty-one local business professionals graduated from the Jackson Chamber’s 2017 Leadership Jackson class on Thursday, December 14 at the Carl Grants Events Center at Union University.

Leadership Jackson, the chamber’s adult leadership development program, gives business professionals employed with companies that are chamber members the opportunity to better understand the community, the opportunities and the challenges it faces. Class members visited community landmarks, met with area leaders and participated in weekly sessions about topics impacting Jackson-Madison County, including education, healthcare and government.

“Leadership Jackson has a longstanding history of identifying and developing high performing individuals who become strong contributors to the community," says Sarah Johnson, The Jackson Clinic and 2017 Leadership Jackson chair. “This year’s class did not disappoint! My hope is that each individual takes the passion developed through the course of this program and continues to serve Jackson, their work, and their families for years to come.”

“I’ve learned to understand that life is filled with individual moments. They all collaborate to form what we call ‘our experience,’” says Pierre DuVentre, Leadership Jackson 2016 vice chair and owner of D'Top Roofing and Repair. “It has been my pleasure to work with such a fine group of individuals. This experience has changed me. I am blessed and fortunate to serve in a leadership position with other incredible leaders. This class has been enlightened, exposed and energized to serve our community. I pray that your energy and efforts create individual moments that you will cherish, and will assist in making your experience serving as great as mine has been to serve this class. Continue to plant the seeds that you were given. What grows will be incredible!”

During the graduation ceremony, class members were recognized for their achievements and received their Leadership Jackson graduate certificate of completion. The class chose Joey Hale, who works at Town & Country Realtors, to be its spokesperson and share their reflections of going through the three-month program and how it will influence their lives. The class also selected Vadessa Flack, The Jackson Symphony, as the 2017 Class social chair. Flack will be responsible for scheduling class meetings and coordinating the 2018 socials.

Lauren Saliba, with Apria Healthcare, was selected to be vice chair of Leadership Jackson in 2018. She will serve with Pierre DuVentre, who will assume the chairmanship.

Five class members were recognized for their commitment and personal growth. Vadessa Flack, The Jackson Symphony; received the highest honor – the Diamond Award – for surpassing all requirements in Leadership Jackson. Jewel award recipients were Jon Holley, Tosh Newman, City of Jackson; Allison Shipp, The STAR Center; and Mechelle Taylor-Moragne, Taylor Medical Center, PLLC.

Leadership Jackson alumni who were recognized are Cassandra Fuller, Jackson Energy Authority, class of 2014, the Emerging Leader Award; Chris Ramey, Jackson Christian School, class of 2007, the Community Observance of Personal Excellence (COPE) Award; Scott Beard, Regions Bank, class of 2003, the Harbert Alexander Award for Servant Leadership; and Dr. Beverly Absher-Bone, Union University, class of 2009, the national Distinguished Leadership Award. Absher-Bone’s award was created to recognize exceptional community leadership graduates who have made significant contributions to better their communities. The Association of Leadership Programs is a national association of leadership programs across the country.

“It has been a pleasure to witness the 2017 class embrace ‘servant leadership’ since the program began in September,” said Brandy Stutsman, manager of Leadership Development, Jackson Chamber. “The more they learn about Jackson-Madison County, the more they invest for the greater good of our community. It will be exciting to see their continued impact in serving others.”

The Leadership Jackson Class of 2017 graduates are Amy Allison, Simmons Bank; Alan Brown, State Farm Insurance; Tim Carpenter, White & Associates Insurance-Carpenter Agency; Kellye Cash, Youth Town of Tennessee; Russell Cook, Jackson Chamber; Kristie Dyer, Manpower of the Mid-South; Lindsey Ferrell, 9Round Jackson; Vadessa Flack, The Jackson Symphony; Tim Gaffney, Leaders Credit Union; Jenny Graves, West Tennessee Healthcare; Adrian Hackett, West Tennessee Area Council, Boy Scouts of America; Joey Hale, Town & Country Realtors; Nick Hall, Jackson Generals Baseball Club; Dessie Hardee, RE/MAX Realty Source; Jon Holley; Prasann Jinturkar, Gerdau; Will Johnson, Garrett Plumbing & Heating Co., Inc.; Leslie Jones, Jackson Energy Authority; Larry Kronk, Pinnacle Foods Group, Inc.; Stephanie Laffoon, The Dream Center; Benjamin Murphy, University School of Jackson; Tosh Newman, City of Jackson; Legon Roberson, Regional Inter-Faith Association (RIFA); Lauren Saliba, Apria Healthcare; Celeste Scott, UT Extension – Madison County; Courtney Searcy, TLM Associates, Inc. Architects + Enginerrs; Allison Shipp, STAR Center, Inc.; Scott Stookey, North Side High School; Mechelle Taylor-Moragne, Taylor Medical Center, PLLC; Jessica Temple, Jackson Arts Council and Kevin Williams, US Farathane Corporation.

For more on Leadership Jackson, visit its website at