CASHIERS/January 26, 2021 – The second class of the Leadership Cashiers development program was recognized Tuesday in a virtual graduation ceremony. Themed “Giving Back,” the session featured special guest speaker Meghan Barp, President & CEO of United Way of Greenville County, who shared her perspective on community development and the importance of collaboration.  

Irv Welling, President of program sponsor Vision Cashiers, set the stage with remarks about the value of civic responsibility. He urged the audience to “get involved, volunteer, care for others, make a difference and be a servant leader.” He then introduced Ms. Barp who spoke to the importance of community commitment. 

2019 LC Alumna and active community leader Maggie Carton provided examples of successful local volunteer efforts ranging from COVID-19 response and recovery to building a Cashiers dog park. Serenity Richards of the Cashiers Community Library invited graduates to stay involved with class colleagues and others by joining the Leadership Cashiers Alumni Network.

Graduating 2020 class members were: Jairo Arenas, Michael Blaylock, Sean Cronin, Kathryn Davis, Helen Ellerbe, Maggie Elmer, John Garcia, Charlie Hudson, Jason Kimenker, Ashlie Mitchell-Lanning, Gary Long, Jr., Abby Powell, Kurt Pusch, Jennifer Reid Fowler, Julie Schott, Chris Stuckey, Nancy Warriner and Jon Welch.

The Cashiers Area Chamber’s 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. Now in its second year, the 2020 class began with an opening retreat at Silver Run Reserve last February. Its in-person format immediately converted to online conferences and later socially-distanced gatherings about once a month. 

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 worked to establish the program which the Cashiers Area Chamber underwrites and manages with the financial support of Program and Session Sponsors: Vision Cashiers, Balsam West, Dillard-Jones Builders, Eric T. Moody CPA, First Citizens Bank, Harris Custom Builders/Silver Run Reserve, High Hampton, Landmark Realty Group, Southwestern Community College, Western Carolina University and Zoller Hardware.  Other contributing investors include Albert Carlton Cashiers Community Library, Church of the Good Shepherd, Leadership Cashiers Alumni Network, Rotary Club of Cashiers Valley and United Community Bank. Leadership Cashiers’ YouTube Channel features “Sponsor Spotlight” interviews from community leaders supporting the program.

The participants attended regular sessions on an extended 12-month schedule to accommodate COVID-19 protocols. Special guests included Jackson County Board of Commission Chair Brian McMahan, County Manager Don Adams and Director of Economic Development Rich Price, Cashiers Planning Council Chair Michael Cox, Western Carolina Professors Dr. Sean Mulholland of the Center for the Study of Free Enterprise and Dr. Pat Morse Department of Social Work, High Hampton Inn HR Director Bert Ross, Jackson County Tourism Development Authority Director Nick Breedlove, University of Florida leadership development Professor Dr. Matthew Sowcik, Principals Dr. Traci Metz and Teri Walawender of Blue Ridge School, Dr. Gary Wein of the Highlands Cashiers Land Trust, health care executives Tom Neal of the Highlands Cashiers Hospital and Robin Tindall of the Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation, and other subject matter experts on Economic Development, Government, Planning & Infrastructure, and Health & Human Services, COVID-19 response and recovery and more.

A principle-based decision making model was utilized and a community development case study reviewed from various constituent perspectives. Glenn Ubertino of Zoller Hardware and current president of the Chamber board generously presented each participant with a copy of “From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership” and another academic guide to framing ideas, building relationships and mobilizing resources, “The Community Leadership Handbook,” was provided by the program and referenced in session activities.

Personal leadership skills were developed through academic and teambuilding exercises led by Angela Owen of Truventure Enterprises who serves as Program Director. She is also executive director and course instructor of Vision Transylvania, a similar program in Brevard, NC.

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. Applications may be submitted for the 2021 class online and financial sponsorships and support are appreciated.