Leadership Pine Bluff readies for 32nd year

The Leadership Pine Bluff program recently concluded its 31st year of educating area professionals about their community and is already gearing up for the start of its 32nd class in September.

Program Executive Director Ann Williams told the West Pine Bluff Rotary Club on Thursday that the program has managed to touch the lives of most local leaders in its more than three decades of service to the community.

“The program is designed to identify, educate and motivate potential leaders to become involved in the future of our community,” Williams said. “Participants are challenged by speakers from many sectors to make a personal commitment to become part of the rich leadership pool that has made Pine Bluff quality of life what it is today.”

Williams thanked both the local companies who have sent their employees through the program and the Rotarians who have gone through it.

“Thank you to all of the companies who send people to the program,” Williams said. “Our Rotary family is very much a part of Leadership Pine Bluff. In the past couple of years companies including Central Moloney, Strong Manufacturing and Evergreen Packaging have opened their doors to our program and allowed us to tour their facilities.”

Williams said that the program — which meets the second Tuesday of every month from September until May — features in-person discussions with experts from a number of local organizations and institutions to give participants the opportunity to examine social, political and economic changes affecting life in the community.

“We start in September and in October we have a farm tour to showcase our strong agribusiness sector here in Jefferson County,” Williams said. “In March we travel to Little Rock to sit in on a legislative session at the State Capitol. In April we examine the full scope of the health and wellness sector in Pine Bluff. Finally in May we visit the Pine Bluff Arsenal.”

Williams said that the monthly sessions typically begin at 8 a.m. and go until 4 p.m.

“We are always looking for new places to go and this year we went to the library,” Williams said. “I hadn’t been to the library in a long time, so it was really great to see what is happening there. We always have a nice tour of the Southeast Arkansas College campus.”

Williams said that applications for the 2013-2014 class are being accepted until Friday, June 28.

“There are two full scholarships available,” Williams said. “They cover the full $575 tuition cost. One is sponsored by the Leadership Pine Bluff Alumni Association and is in honor of Pat Lile who ran the first Leadership Pine Bluff program along with her husband John Lile. The other full scholarship began in 2008 and is in honor of [Simmons First National Chairman and CEO J.] Thomas May.”

Williams said there are also three partial scholarships available.

“I am so thankful and blessed to love what I do,” Williams said.