Leadership Winston-Salem celebrates its 30th year

Leadership Winston-Salem celebrates its 30th year
June 18
00:00 2015

In photo above: 55 Leadership Winston-Salem current class members, alumni, and 30 sponsors of the organization dance during the “world premiere” of a song by Natasha Gore, a special song that commemorates the 30 years of class participants in the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization. (Photo by Erin Mizelle for the Winston-Salem Chronicle)

By Tori Pittman
For The Chronicle

On Wednesday, June 10, Leadership Winston-Salem celebrated its 30th anniversary by inducting the approximately 55 members of the class of 2015 at the Grand Pavilion Ballroom of the Embassy Suites in downtown Winston-Salem.

Jo Ellen Carson, executive director, began by giving a welcome to the audience of about 200 people from 40 companies.

Mayor Allen Joines, class of 1989, spoke about his aspirations for Winston-Salem.

“So many individuals have gotten involved without having a vision of moving forward,” he said. “To be one of the top 50 metro areas, the only way is for the entire community to get behind it and move forward.”

Following Joines was a panel discussion led by Stan Kelly, class of 1994, along with Oscar Santos, class of 2012, and Evelyn Terry, from the inaugural class of 1985.

Terry, a member of the N.C. House of Representatives (District 71), serves as a consultant for Southside Community Development Corp. and chairwoman of the Forsyth County Department of Social Services Board of Directors.

“I think it was an idea for a person like myself to become intimately involved with those persons whom we had from afar considered to be the movers and the shakers,” Terry said.

Stan Kelly gave his reflections about his personal experiences.

“The word ‘diversity’ and inclusion is what really resonates with me,” Kelly said. “Leadership Winston-Salem was our front, certainly from an inclusiveness standpoint, in helping us get what it meant to live and share and dialogue across differences and appreciate differences.”
Kelly went on speaking about his exposure to diversity through nonprofit organizations that were heavily involved in making a difference within Winston-Salem.

Oscar Santos, senior vice president with BB&T, made his point to the audience about not having leadership without going through some type of service.

“If you think that service is beneath you, then leadership is beyond you,” Santos said.

Terry further discussed her personal endeavors with the program by letting her voice be heard from her work and dedication.
“The reality of going through the exercise [seminar] and coming out with a feeling of understanding about how connected God’s creation is, if we only get together, sit down in a room and understand each other’s issues.”

“It was a marvelous experience and as a result, I would have 30 years of relationships that never could have happened without having had the opportunity to participate in a meaningful way, non-threatening way, and a way that was not going to be held against me,” Terry said.
“I say that with genuine sincerity and gratitude for the persons who afforded me the opportunity to express myself and 30 years ago,” Terry said.
There were poster boards displayed of community leaders involved in different programs and the photos of the inducted classmates from the previous years.

The Chronicle’s publisher, Ernie Pitt, was involved in conversations to form the first class and was a member of the inaugural class.
There has been about 1,800 graduates in 30 years. A few well-known graduates are City Manager Lee Garrity, Police Chief Barry Rountree and the Rev. James C. Hash Jr. of St. Peter’s Church & World Outreach Center.

After the anniversary celebration panel discussion, there was a video with audience participation singing the song “Best Class Ever,” by Natasha Gore, while other alumni of the organization were giving their thoughts.

John X. Miller, lead editor of the Winston-Salem Journal, was nominated by the class of 2015 to be the speaker at the ceremony.
“Make it a point, classmates, to commit to keeping in touch with a couple of people in our circle,” Miller said.

Near the end of the ceremony, Leadership Winston-Salem received $15,000 and gave the newly graduated members certificates of completion and a place among the alumni who came before them.

Leadership Winston-Salem is a charitable organization that began in 1984 to increase the understanding and commitment to the city’s future during a time of significant change and took off in 1985.

The mission of Leadership Winston-Salem is educating, connecting and energizing leaders to serve and improve the community.
To learn more about Leadership of Winston-Salem, get involved or apply to the program, go to

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