More than 600 people have graduated from Leadership Jackson County since it started in 1982.
After their time with the adult leadership program, class members may lose touch over the years, change jobs or move.
One of this year’s project teams put in the work to ensure LJC alumni stay connected.
Tricia Bechman, Drew Markel, Natasha Miller, Stephanee Squires-Roberts and Megan White spent time updating an alumni database and determining a “class agent” from each of the 34 classes.
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Each of those people will keep his or her class members’ contact information updated on the database and spread the word about events and fundraisers for the adult leadership program and its youth counterpart, YoJack.
The class agents also will assist the LJC board and alumni committee with strategies for increasing alumni engagement, enhancing funding to support LJC and YoJack and strengthen the organization’s presence in the county.
“How many times have you mentioned Leadership to someone you know to surprisingly find out that person also went through LJC?” White said. “Our hope is that someday soon, LJC alumni will be more recognizable in Jackson County. We are proud to be earning the elite rank of LJC alumni, and you should be, too.”
Midway through the 2015-16 LJC class, the project teams were announced. The five members of the alumni engagement team then had to come up with a project.
They met with members of the LJC board and alumni committee to brainstorm ideas.
Once they selected class agents as their project, they realized it would be the best way to keep alumni engaged and involved in fundraising efforts, thus strengthening LJC’s presence.
“We’ve all enjoyed our LJC experience and believe the 600 alumni in our county is an untapped resource with enumerable potential,” Squires-Roberts said. “It is unrealistic for the current board and committee to add fundraising events to their schedule without additional help, and with 600 alumni with deep connections throughout the county, it seems natural to reach out to those who LJC has cultivated.”
After the group updated the alumni database and had a list of class agents, that was uploaded into a shared file that allows the class agents to change information as needed and also search for other classes by year.
“The list of members reads as a who’s who of Jackson County leadership,” Markel said. “Making this list available to alumni will aid in cross-communication and add value to the program as a whole.”
The team was able to establish class agents for nearly every LJC class. Some of those class agents recently attended a social event to meet other class agents, board members, alumni committee members and director Terrye Davidson and receive details about their responsibilities.
Each class agent is asked to serve a three-year term. When that expires, they can either continue in that role for another three years or have Davidson and the board find someone else in that class to take over.
For future LJC classes, a class agent will be determined after graduation. Davidson will suggest names to the alumni committee, which will reach out to those people to see who’s interested in serving.
Some of the class agents also could be asked to join an auxiliary committee to help plan LJC fundraisers and events.
As another way to engage alumni and increase awareness of LJC, the project team also rewrote the lyrics of the popular song “Y.M.C.A.” and changed the title to “L.J.C.A.,” which stands for Leadership Jackson County Alumni. It was sung and recorded by Brian York and Corey Lawles of the band Lonesome Crow and placed on a CD for Davidson to keep.
The song encourages LJC alumni to find ways to stay connected beyond their time in the class and use what they learned in the class to become involved in their community, including joining a board or a service organization, volunteering with projects and coaching or mentoring youth.
“We were hoping this song serves as a rally cry to pull our alumni together, an avenue to build connections and a means to encourage all to give back to this great community we live in in any way you can,” Miller said.
Davidson said she’s happy with the efforts of the alumni engagement team.
“It’s apparent that we have a very strong presence in Jackson County, only we’re not very good at recognizing ourselves, not very good about bragging about ourselves,” she said. “We’re just a group of individuals who care and are committed and go about our business and take care of business.
“I think not just as Leadership Jackson County goes forward, but as much of what is happening and developing in Jackson County, we have to do a better job of connecting and recognizing those efforts,” she added. “I think this group has done a really good job of laying a great foundation for that to happen for Leadership Jackson County.”
For information about Leadership Jackson County, visit leadershipjacksoncounty.org or facebook.com/ljcencore.
Leadership Jackson County class agents
1982-83: John Burkhart
1983-84: Mark Thomas
1984-85: To be filled
1985-86: To be filled
1986-87: Trina Tracy
1987-88: Kathy Mead
1988-89: Laura Kirtley
1989-90: To be filled
1990-91: Priscilla Wischmeier
1991-92: Greg Prange
1992-93: Teresa Pottschmidt
1993-94: Erin Royalty
1994-95: Jan Warren
1995-96: To be filled
1996-97: Brad Lucas
1997-98: Michelle Schaefer
1998-99: Shery Tiemeyer
1999-2000: Kristie Farmer
2000-01: Deb Bedwell
2001-02: To be filled
2002-03: Clark Brown
2003-04: Cindi Lucas
2004-05: Jackie Hill
2005-06: Katie Kaufman
2006-07: Kathy Covert
2007-08: To be filled
2008-09: Kelly Franklin
2009-10: Chris Lambring
2010-11: Brian Reedy
2011-12: Janet Davidson
2012-13: Brooke Stein
2013-14: Hillary Toppe
2014-15: Kendra Zumhingst
2015-16: Patsy Hess