Leadership Rockdale (LR) Class of 2016 has exceeded my expectations at the 3E level! Are you wondering what the 3E level stands for?
ENGAGING – ENLIGHTENING – EMPOWERING
I cannot speak on behalf of the entire class but the majority of us have been amazed and/or surprised during various sessions, presentations, tours, and activities. Many of my classmates and I thought that we knew almost everything about Conyers because we have lived or worked here for many years. It has also been great to meet and learn from so many people in different careers, industries, and backgrounds.
Often times, life is too busy to engage in anything outside of our family, church, business, career, associations, or anything immediately within our daily routine. However, LR gave us that opportunity to engage across so many areas that we may not otherwise have had an opportunity to or the time. Obviously, we all are quite busy and to be honest, I almost passed this opportunity up when I was nominated by Tisa Smart-Washington. I was honored, but I almost passed it up because I was so busy wearing various hats as a traveling business executive, author, speaker, community servant, and more. Then I finally asked myself, “If not now, then when because every year just gets busier and better?”
It was then when I moved forward and it was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Prior to the program, I was active within Rockdale County on some boards and volunteered in some pivotal charities. After joining the LR program, I have still been enlightened every month from day one. Among many experiences, the program areas that stand out the most to me are:
- We have an excellent school system performance on a national level and the various programs for our youth to go onto college, go directly into another career, and be in second chance programs. There is no excuse not to succeed if a student truly desires to do so.
- Our City of Conyers and Rockdale County government are responsible for what, when and why.
- Our court system has the insight, foster care advocates, and rehabilitation efforts.
- Rockdale Medical Center has the insight and progression despite the medical industry challenges.
- Life Planning Panels challenged us to really think about unpopular but necessary topics that may affect people that we know well or our employees. Topics for thought included mental health challenges, hidden depression, will preparations, and many essentials topics that most people avoid.
- Our county offers help for homelessness via temporary shelters, food banks and assistance programs.
Often times, I found myself sounding like a broken tape asking someone next to me, “Did you know about this program, this facility, this business, this park, this_____?” Most of the time, the classmate’s response was, “No” or “I am just as surprised as you are!”
Needless to say, everyone in LR is connected to Rockdale County somehow but we will be able to serve more or work with others that we have grown with in this program. We will continue taking our current community service, leadership and volunteerism to the next level. There will always have room to stretch ourselves into our future to help people, places, and our community to continuously evolve to the next level.
On a personal page, LR associations definitely touched me in a least four other areas beyond community and business. My assigned retreat partner ended up reconnecting me to my old high school best friend who now lives in San Diego, CA. During our retreat, my retreat partner (Chara) and I were talking and getting to know each other. Through our conversation about where we attended high school and colleges, we discovered that my long lost best high school friend was also later her best friend in college. Ironically, I was already scheduled for a business trip to San Diego the following month (of all places) and I ended up having a joyful, tear-filled dinner reunion after 21 years apart with that best friend thanks to my new, great friend that I met in LR.
Secondly, I had a chance to honor my late grandfather, Rev Herbert Lee Williams, during our Legacy Project at the Walk of Heroes because he honorably served in World War II. I made a donation in his name and he now has a plaque at the beautiful Walk of Heroes, which is quite sentimental because he was one of my “heroes” growing up. He was also quite a hero in the community and family to others as I have learned growing up from so many people that he positively impacted.
In addition to my heart-touching moments concerning the best friend reunion and honoring my grandfather, I was very excited that LR included two other areas that are near and dear to me – the Conyers-Rockdale Library and Phoenix Pass. I have serve on the library board for years and this part of our community offers vast resources and dynamic programs. I also partner with Phoenix Pass annually because it is one of the best programs that truly changes lives one family at a time.
This overall experience in LR has been quite a positive journey and I am somewhat saddened that it is ending – although my schedule will enjoy the opening after graduation. Most of us are already active in Rockdale County. I definitely intend to be even more involved with some of the programs, businesses, and charities that I discovered in this transforming program.
I give hats off to our LR Leaders!
LaShell Williams, Leadership Rockdale 2016