CASHIERS/February 26, 2019 – The inaugural Leadership Cashiers class recently launched its seven-month program with an opening retreat at Mountaintop Golf & Lake Club. The Cashiers Area Chamber’s new community engagement initiative is based on a development model used by many cities across the country to prepare and motivate participants to offer quality community leadership.

The program’s mission is to inform, connect and engage individuals by intensively studying issues affecting the area and by building strong working relationships for enlightened, dynamic leadership. A volunteer task force comprised of Ben Harris, Don Jehle, Bob Starkey, Irv Welling, Stephanie Edwards and others worked to establish the program which the Cashiers Area Chamber underwrites and manages.

Class members include:  David Billingsley of United Community Bank, Margaret Carton of Friends of Panthertown, Brent Eason of Zoller Hardware, Brad Herman of High Hampton Resort, Brent Metcalf of Christ Church of the Valley, Cheryl Moss of Coward, Hicks & Siler, PA, Pat Morse of Western Carolina University, Eli Ramirez of the Cashiers Area Chamber, Emily Reback of Western Carolina University, Andrew Renfro of Lonesome Valley, Serenity Richards of the Albert Carlton Cashiers Community Library, James Stewart-Payne of the Library and Summit Charter School, and Thomas Taulbee.

“The Leadership Cashiers program was designed to build a “cadre of area leaders with the necessary tools and connectivity for making a meaningful positive impact on our community as well as insight on our future challenges,” explained Welling who also serves as chair of Program Sponsor Vision Cashiers (formerly Village Conservancy). Class members are current community stakeholders with demonstrated elements of civic involvement and commitment in the Cashiers area.

Fourteen participants will attend regular sessions, held January through September, with subject matter experts on Economic Development, Government, Planning & Infrastructure, Education, and Health & Human Services.  Personal leadership skills also will be developed through academic and teambuilding exercises. Angela Owen of Truventure Enterprises serves as Program Director. She is also executive director and course instructor of Vision Transylvania, a similar program in Brevard, NC.

Session Sponsors providing financial support for the inaugural Leadership Cashiers class include: Coward, Hicks & Siler, Entegra Bank, Harris Custom Homes, High Hampton Resort, Eric Moody CPA, United Community Bank, Western Carolina University, Zoller Hardware and scholarship funding has been committed by Rotary Club of Cashiers Valley.

Jackson County Planning Director Michael Poston was a featured speaker at the opening retreat. He presented an overview of the Cashiers Small Area Plan and discussed managed development.  Chamber Executive Director Edwards spoke to the group about governance and the organization’s strategic initiatives and activities. Leadership Highlands alumna, Mary Abranyi of Cashiers Valley Fusion, shared the positive experience she had in their community program.  A Principle-Based Decision Making process was introduced and a development case study reviewed from various constituent perspectives.

The next session will focus on Economic Development with guest speakers representing public policy and private business interests.  For more information, visit, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 828-743-5191.




  1. Group L-R Brent Metcalf, Thomas Taulbee, Andrew Renfro, Pat Morse, Emily Reback, Brad Herman
  2. David Billingsley and Serenity Richards
  3. Eli Ramirez and Brent Metcalf
  4. Table L-R Cheryl Moss, Emily Reback, Brent Metcalf, Eli Ramirez