The Blowing Rock Chamber’s Leadership Challenge Graduation was held on April 17th at the Blowing Rock Country Club.

Charles Hardin, President/CEO of the Blowing Rock Chamber and the facilitator of the Leadership Challenge stated, “We graduated 14 sharp, young professional leaders. I am always encouraged about the future of our town and its leadership as these emerging leaders graduate from this program.”

The keynote address titled “Building Innovative Communities” was delivered by Erich Schlenker, Director of Appalachian State University’s Insight Transportation Center for Entrepreneurship. Following the address, diplomas were presented to the participants.

The Blowing Rock Leadership Challenge, started in 2007, is an innovative leadership development program sponsored and produced by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce. This program is designed to meet our community’s future need for the active participation of informed and educated leaders. The goal of the program is to identify potential leaders and provide them with the community information and encouragement needed to spur local action and involvement. Graduates are challenged to apply their talents throughout the community by becoming a part of local organizations, including public boards, nonprofit groups, civic clubs and the Chamber.

Additionally, the graduates design a class project as a “give back,” to the community. Examples from prior classes include; Blowing Rock’s first official Candidates Forum, Pass it Down (National Committee New River/Mountain Alliance), Regional Project on Water Resource development and conservation, Dancing with High County Stars to raise over $50K for the Hayes Center, 1000 Hours Challenge, the legacy landscape garden in the median of US 321 at the Blue Ridge Parkway, and re-furbishing the Blowing Rock Parks and Recreation Space.

This year’s class is planning to spearhead a new restroom facility to be constructed at Blowing Rock School’s playground. Due in part to new security measures, school children do not have access to restrooms when playing there. Anyone with interest in helping with this much needed community amenity should contact the Chamber for more information.

The leadership program is available to 15 participants bi-annually. Business owners, employees of Blowing Rock businesses, residents and newcomers are encouraged to apply for the 2021 class. Applications will be available in October 2020. The class lasts approximately 8 weeks. After a thorough review of all applications submitted, the participants are selected in an effort to form a group of gender, geographical, general and occupational balance.

The 2019 Graduates (photo L-R); Ali Borchardt, Joyce Zellner, Jim Zellner, Charles Wofford, Katy Reisterer, Ronnie Mark, Rachel Stewart, Erica Brinker, Keith Shockley, Tammy Bentley, Sarah Goff, Chasity Stephens, and Paulette Mitchell.