Thirty-Two Business Professionals graduate from Leadership Jackson program

December 13, 2018


The 40th Class of Leadership Jackson.

Thirty-two local business professionals graduated from the Jackson Chamber’s 40th Leadership Jackson (LJ) class on Thursday, December 13 at the Carl Grant 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 truly been a rich and fulfilling experience for me. To serve as a leader amongst the leaders of our community was quite an honor,” says Pierre DuVentre, Leadership Jackson 2018 chair and owner of D-Top Roofing and Repair. “There is no doubt in my mind that this 40th class will continue to plant seeds and produce the fruit from such a rich program. Serving alongside Lauren Saliba, under Brandy Stutsman’s guidance has been incredible and I feel like a better leader because of that experience. Our community has a jewel with the LJ program.”

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve the 40th Leadership Jackson class,’” says Lauren Saliba, Leadership Jackson 2017 vice chair and branch manager & territory sales manager of Apria Healthcare. “I am excited to see what the 40th Leadership Jackson class will continue to do to serve Jackson Madison County.”

During the graduation ceremony, class members were recognized for their achievements and received their Leadership Jackson graduate certificate of completion. The class chose Mr. Freeman McKindra, who works at Lane College, 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 Shelby Matthis, community activist, as the 2018 class social chair. Matthis will be responsible for scheduling class meetings and coordinating the 2019 socials.

Russ McKelvey, with Mack Pest Control, was selected to be vice chair of Leadership Jackson in 2019. He will serve with Saliba, who will assume the chairmanship.

Five class members were recognized for their commitment and personal growth. Sabrina Blue, Helping Hands of Tennessee; received the highest honor – the Diamond Award – for surpassing all requirements in Leadership Jackson. Jewel award recipients were Carl Alexander, City of Jackson Fire Department; Aubrey Richardson, City of Jackson Police Department; Michelle Willis, Gerdau; and Lee Wilson, Jackson Escape Rooms.

Leadership Jackson alumni who were recognized are Lowell Beller, Central Distributors, Inc., class of 2015, the Emerging Leader Award; Clay Crockett, HORNE, LLP, class of 2014, the Community Observance of Personal Excellence (COPE) Award; Frank McMeen, West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation, class of 2003, the Harbert Alexander Award for Servant Leadership; and Chris Ramey, Freed-Hardeman University, class of 2007, the national Distinguished Leadership Award. Ramey’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 2018 class embrace ‘servant leadership’ since the program began in September,” said Brandy Stutsman, director 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 2018 graduates are:

Carl Alexander, Jackson Fire Department (County Commissioner)

Sabrina Blue, Helping Hands of Tennessee

Melody Brown, Spire Rehabilitation Hospital

Ben Colling, Taylor & Sons of Tennessee, LLC

Alli Damas, The STAR Center

Jill Erling, Jackson Chamber

Jen Free, Byrd & Byrd, Attorneys at Law, PLLC

Jason Garrett, Union University

Jeff Haynes, The Carlstar Group

Fennix Johnson, Madison County Juvenile Court

Austin Lewis, Freed-Hardeman University

Blake Marlar, TLM Associates, Inc.

Shelby Matthis, Community Activist

Russ McKelvey, Mack Pest Control

Mr. Freeman McKindra, Lane College

Erin Mitchell, Leaders Credit Union

Jennifer Morehead, Stanley Black & Decker

Summer Nichols, Zebra Marketing

Abby Norville, Alexander Thompson Arnold PLLC

Summer Paris, Paris Creative Agency

Aubrey Richardson, Jackson Police Department

Jason Robertson, FirstBank

Tara Skinner, Century 21 Action Realty

Amy Smith, The Jackson Clinic, P.A.

Becky Smith, BancorpSouth

Pam Stanfield, University School of Jackson

Julie Taylor, Spire Rehabilitation Hospital

Jake Whitby, Durham Chiropractic

Sheree Williams, Highland Place Bed and Breakfast

Michelle Willis, Gerdau

Dr. April Wilson, Loving Arms, LLC

Lee Wilson, Jackson Escape Rooms

For more information on Leadership Jackson, visit