Alumni return for Leadership Lakes Region reunion
GILFORD -- They all come from different backgrounds and professions, but the link that bonds the alumni of Leadership Lakes Region is one of lasting community involvement.
Earlier this month, the first-ever gathering of alumni from the organization was held at The Lyons Den restaurant and tavern in Gilford and brought together members of annual classes going back to 1998.
According to Leadership Lakes Region Chair Don Morrissey, the organization is dedicated to community improvement through development of effective volunteer leaders.
Leadership Lakes Region classes span seven months for participants and offer one-day programs covering topics such as the history and culture of the Lakes Region; social issues; educational issues; economic issues; political issues; health issues; and lakes/environmental issues all from a Lakes Region perspective.
Class participants receive first-hand information about the community from discussions with business, organizational, government and civic leaders.
"It is the desire of Leadership Lakes Region to promote volunteerism and teach people how to become involved in their community as a lifelong activity," Morrissey said. "By the end of the program, participants will be more knowledgeable than most about the Lakes Region area and will have developed a network of others, like themselves, who are anxious to volunteer and work together to improve our communities."
The special gathering for Leadership Lakes Region alumni was the first time all former participants were invited to a reunion since the program began operations with the 1998 class.
The organization was modeled after other successful leadership programs throughout the United States.
Morrissey said that so far a total of 288 area professionals have graduated from the program and more than 40 alumni attended the reunion event.
Billed as a "wine and whiskey tasting," the evening was an opportunity to renew old friendships made through participation in the Leadership Lakes program, Morrissey said.
The reunion was organized by Leadership Lakes Board member and graduate Julie Baron, who was assisted by program graduates Beth San Soucie, Maria Salanitro, Sue Gaudette, Donna Kuethe, Kate Bishop-Hamel, Nikki Lyons and Meredith Horton.
Jennifer McLean, Leadership Lakes Program Coordinator, served as the group's advisor for the reunion planning process.
"This was a great turn-out for our first-ever formal alumni event,” McLean said. "It was nice to meet some of the graduates from the original class of 1998, as well as renew acquaintances with more recent graduates."
Program graduate Julie Baron said it was inspiring to see so many community leaders engaged in the Lakes Region and gathered in support of Leadership Lakes Region.
"For me, there has always been such richness in keeping a connection with fellow graduates," Baron said. "Beyond what I learned in this leadership program, I value the relationships I created with kindred spirits who strive to give back to our community in some way."
Morrissey said that the special evening featured wine and spirits for tasting, compliments of Jim Hildreth and Jackie Dumais of Southern Wine & Spirits of New England.
Complimentary hors d’oeuvres were provided by the generous hosts and owners of the Lyon’s Den, Roland and Lauren Lyons.
Those seeking more information about participating in future Leadership Lakes Region classes are encouraged to visit www.leadershiplakesregion.org for more information.