Leadership Orleans begins year for first class of 25

Photos by Tom Rivers: Skip Helfrich, program director for the new Leadership Orleans program, leads the opening retreat for the class on Thursday at Tillman’s Village Inn. The retreat was for two days. The class of 25 will meet monthly throughout the year.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 January 2018 at 2:36 pm

GAINES – A new leadership program kicked off this week with a two-day retreat at Tillman’s Village Inn.

The program has been years in the making. Orleans has been one of the few counties without a leadership program. The new Leadership Orleans became a reality this year after the County Legislature set aside $33,000 last year to get the program off the ground.

Charlie Nesbitt, a retired state assemblyman, also has been critical in rallying sponsors for the program and urging people to participate. The debut class has 25 members and is led by director Skip Helfrich, a graduate of the program in Niagara County.

Nesbitt spoke during a reception for program participants and sponsors on Thursday evening.

“You know a successful community or county when you see it,” Nesbitt told the group. “These communities and places are successful from the efforts and decisions and vision of individuals.”

Nesbitt said one person can sometimes change the trajectory of the community. He cited George Eastman in Rochester or Henry Ford in Detroit. Some people, in contrast, can change the community in a negative way, Nesbitt said.

He pushed for Leadership Orleans so key people in the community could better understand how local government, businesses and other sectors work. The class draws on a cross section of the community. The program picked residents who have demonstrated leadership abilities, interest in community affairs, and a commitment to Orleans County’s future.

Charlie Nesbitt, a retired state assemblyman, addresses members of the class and supporters of the program on Thursday evening at Tillman’s Village Inn. Nesbitt has been influential in securing sponsors for the program and urging people to be in the class.

“It’s an exciting program to come into our county and it will offer a strong network for more people,” said Robert Batt, executive director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orleans County.

Doug Farley, director of the Cobblestone Society & Museum, welcomed the chance to learn more about the county through Leadership Orleans.

“It will give a broad exposure to Orleans County,” he said.

Nesbitt hopes the class participants will develop close ties and work together to strengthen the community.

“What you are going to get out of this is a broad understanding of how our community works,” he said.

Helfrich is the director and he works out of an office at Community Action of Orleans & Genesee in Albion. Helfrich is the president/owner of Human Energies, a human resources and organizational development consulting firm. He leads many retreats for other leadership programs.

Participants had many team-building exercises over the two days and also took a personality inventory. People are one of four personalities according to the DiSC personal profile system. D’s like control and can be dominant; I’s are influencers who like recognition, S’s are steadfast supporters who don’t like confrontation; and C’s are cautiously analytical who like facts and data, and don’t like irrational acts.

Orleans Hub editor Tom Rivers also put together a trivia quiz for the group about local history and other interesting Orleans facts.

Leadership Orleans is a one-year tuition based program that requires enrolled individuals to commit to a two-day opening retreat, one full day per month of program participation over a ten-month period, and a two-day closing retreat/graduation ceremony.

Each month the group will learn about a different sector of the community, including government, arts and culture, volunteerism and non-profit organizations, community health, tourism and recreation, agribusiness, economic & workforce development, and education.

Jim DeFilipps, a deputy with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, introduces himself to the class on Thursday using some drawings of things he likes and things he dislikes.

The class members include: Robert Batt, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orleans County; James DeFilipps, deputy for Orleans County Sheriff’s Office; Kaitlyn Delamarter, executive director of United Way of Orleans County; Marlee Diehl, retired recruiter and past district governor for Rotary; Staci Everetts, vice president of human resources of Claims Recovery Financial Services;

• Ed Fancher, executive director of Community Action of Orleans & Genesee; Doug Farley, director of Cobblestone Society & Museum; Jodi Gaines, CEO/founder of Claims Recovery Financial Services; Jackie Gilbert, owner/vice president of Darrell’s Place; Nadine Hanlon, clerk of Orleans County Legislature;

• Steve Hicks, financial advisor with Brighton Securities; Kathy Hodgins, director of treatment services for GCASA; Tim Hollenbaugh, service manager/sales for Bentley Brothers, Inc.; Brett Kast, orchard manager for Kast Farms; RJ Linder, credit representative for Farm Credit East;

• Amit Misra, director of manufacturing for Baxter Healthcare; Josh Mitchell, funeral director with Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes; Eddie Moss, director of computer services for Orleans County; Nick Nesbitt, owner/manager for Nesbitt Fruit Farms & Nesbitt Bros. LLC; Jessica Root-Olinger, manager for Dale S. Root Trucking LLC;

• Mike Ryan, manager of operations for RTS Orleans; Lisa Tombari, executive assistant for Talis Equity; Heidi Truschel, community relations manager for the Arc of Genesee Orleans; Eric Watson, president of Watson Enterprises; and Patrick Weissend, vice president and branch manager of Tompkins Bank of Castile.

Return to top