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Officials graduate to top of Local Elected Leaders Academy 

by Jessica Wells, NCLM Communications Specialist 


 The 2014 Advanced Leadership Corps graduates complete a week of training on leadership skills. Pictured are Shelby Mayor Stan Anthony, Spring Lake Mayor Chris Rey, League Chief Information Officer/Business Director Ryan Draughn, Lenoir Mayor Joe Gibbons, Cary Council Member Jennifer Robinson, Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins, Jacksonville Mayor Pro Tem Michael Lazzara, and Morrisville Mayor Pro Tem Liz Johnson. Photo credit: UNC School of Government
Seven municipal officials graduated from the Advanced Leadership Corps at the UNC School of Government on Sept. 19. The most highly involved city and county elected officials statewide were invited to the week-long training on leadership skills useful in leading their governments.

This year’s graduates are Shelby Mayor Stan Anthony, Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins, Lenoir Mayor Joe Gibbons, Morrisville Mayor Pro Tem Liz Johnson, Jacksonville Mayor Pro Tem Michael Lazzara, Spring Lake Mayor Chris Rey, Cary Council Member Jennifer Robinson, and League Chief Information Officer/Business Director Ryan Draughn (League staff participant.)

Lenoir Mayor Joe Gibbons was glad he took the time to attend this course as it was a great opportunity to learn about his leadership style and how he can improve.

“As we got together, it turned into be a lot more than I thought it was going to be. All those little things you think you’re doing right -- like handshakes for instance -- you learn there are different ways to do things,” Gibbons said. “We’re very blessed and proud to have people in the state who want to help us be better leaders.”

All of the participants achieved the Local Elected Leaders Academy Mentor status before being invited to the Corps. To achieve Mentor status, an elected official must earn Academy credits by attending professional development courses at the School of Government, North Carolina League of Municipalities or the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.

The Academy is a partnership between the three organizations that exists to provide relevant training to elected officials like state-mandated ethics, finance, public speaking training, the New Mayors Orientation and Essentials of Municipal Government courses.

Franklinton Mayor Elic Senter is a graduate of the inaugural Advanced Leadership Corps last year and said it was one of his top five most worthwhile professional development experiences.

“I don’t think there’s anything else out there – that I’ve seen at least – that makes you examine how you work not necessarily with your board, but how you work period,” Senter said. “For public servants who need a deep-dive look at their own leadership style and are willing to open themselves up to change and challenge, I recommend it.”

He said while he didn’t learn anything incredibly shocking about his work habits, he did change how he communicates with his board and citizens.

“The most important part was learning how I connect with others, receive their communication and internalize things,” he said. “That really set me on my ear for a little while and prompted me to change how I connect.”

Senter has been mayor since 2007 and became involved with the Academy within a month of his election. According to him, participation in the Academy’s training and networking is a no-brainer.

“Generally, you know why you’re in elected office, but just because you get elected doesn’t mean you know how to do it. The whole function of having the School of Government and the League is to help you be better at what you’re doing,” he said. “I’m lucky enough to have connected with some fantastic local elected leaders, and I’m pretty confident I’ve made some lifelong connections, too.”