New class starts for Leadership Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 April 2021 at 3:27 pm

Program now in 4th year gives group a chance to explore many facets of the county

Photos by Tom Rivers: Pictured from left, front row: Nicole Goyette, Elissa Smith, Joanna Follman, Sam Covis, Kathy Jurs, Sherry Haylett, Donna Ciccarelli, Stacy Newell, Denise Klos and Ben McPherson. Back row: Mike Magnuson, Sean Snook, Rebecca Alexander, Gabe Myers, Roberta Conn, Melinda Pitcher, Chris Ranallo, Cat Holland, Renee Hungerford, Ayesha Kreutz, Mourad Attar, Rich Allis, Scott Wilson, Rob Riemer and Justin Niederhofer.

LYNDONVILLE – The fourth class for Leadership Orleans started this past week with a two-day retreat at the White Birch Golf Course.

The program started in 2018. Each year about 25 community members participate in the program. They used to meet monthly and spend a full day examining an aspect of the county, and hearing from leaders in different industries, businesses, human services, education and other sectors of the community.

This year’s class was pushed back due to Covid-19 concerns. Instead of meeting monthly, the class will get together twice a month some of months to ensure a full year of programming.

The opening retreat included several ice breakers to help the class get better acquainted, a personality profile awareness, and discussion about servant leadership.

Laura Olinger, owner and president of Bentley Brothers, speaks during the opening retreat last Thursday for Leadership Orleans at the White Birch Golf Course in Lyndonville.

Olinger is a member of the steering committee for Leadership Orleans. She said the program shows the county’s strengths and looks for ways to overcome the challenges.

“It can be really easy to say we’ve always done it this way,” Olinger said. “But this brings together a group of people who want to be involved and see the community do better.”

Skip Helfrich, director of the program, said there continues to be strong interest from the community in leadership Orleans. This year’s class includes 11 organizations that haven’t been part of the program before. He already has three applicants for the 2022 program.

“This class is a great way to learn about Orleans County,” he said. “Everyone builds a network and you’re learning about your community.”

In coming months the class will have days focused on legislative affairs, an adventure leadership day, community health, education, business and culture, tourism and recreation, agribusiness, economic and workforce development, simulated society, volunteerism, and a closing retreat and graduation.

Participants pay a tuition for the program, which also receives $16,000 in funding from the county, as well as many sponsors.

The 2021 class includes:

  • Rebecca Alexander, co-owner of Dubby’s Wood Fired Pizza
  • Rich Allis, pastor of Light of Victory Church in Albion
  • Mourad Attar, quality engineer for Baxter Healthcare
  • Donna Ciccarelli, global purchasing planner at Baxter Healthcare
  • Roberta Conn, office manager for Oak Orchard Community Health Center
  • Sam Covis, assistant director Lee-Whedon Memorial Library in Medina
  • Joanna Follman, payroll administrator for Millennium Roads in Lyndonville
  • Nicole Goyette, assistant principal for Orleans/Niagara BOCES
  • Sherry Haylett, director of finance for the Arc of Genesee Orleans
  • Cat Holland, retail manager for Leonard Oakes Estate Winery in Medina
  • Renee Hungerford, executive director of Community Action of Orleans & Genesee
  • Kathy Jurs, herd care manager for Orleans Poverty Hill Farms in Albion
  • Denise Klos, manager of operations for RTS Orleans
  • Ayesha Kreutz, program coordinator for the Genesee Orleans Ministry of Concern
  • Mike Magnuson, reference librarian for Hoag Library in Albion
  • Ben McPherson, financial advisor for Edward Jones Investments in Lockport
  • Gabe Myers, customer service manager for Leonard Oakes Estate Winery in Medina
  • Stacy Newell, chief operating officer for Claims Recovery Financial Services in Albion
  • Justin Niederhofer, deputy director of Orleans County Emergency Management Office
  • Melinda Pitcher, manufacturing supervisor for Baxter Healthcare
  • Chris Ranallo, manager of Cobblestone Country Federal Credit Union in Albion
  • Rob Riemer, deputy for Orleans County Sheriff’s Office
  • Elissa Smith, elementary principal at Lyndonville
  • Sean Snook, operations manager at Claims Recovery Financial Services in Albion
  • Scott Wilson, superintendent at Orleans County Jail

The 2021 class met on Thursday and Friday at the White Birch.