Leadership Allegany celebrated its fourth graduation in as many years on Saturday, February 7 at Moonwinks restaurant in Cuba, NY. Nineteen students composed the largest graduating class yet from the 10-month program.
“Allegany County is so fortunate because of its civic programs….leadership and volunteerism,” stated Allegany County Legislative Chairman Curt Crandall, as he addressed the graduates. He offered this piece of advice “Use these skills for the betterment of Allegany County.”
Leadership Allegany is an intense leadership program sponsored in partnership by Houghton College and the Greater Allegany Chamber of Commerce. The program helps to fine-tune leadership skills and provides students with an in-depth, insider’s view of Allegany County industries, including government, the judicial system, manufacturing, agriculture and more.
Pamela Witter, chairwoman for Leadership Allegany and executive director of development at Houghton College also addressed the crowd by saying, “[This] is a significant milestone for 19 adult professionals who committed to their personal leadership group over these last ten months.” She continued, “I want to thank your families and employers that gave you space to work on this program.”
Belinda Knight, associate director of ACCORD Corporation Community Operations Division was the student speaker on behalf of the 2014 class. Knight left the class with these words of encouragement that she gained from the 10-month experience, “The more I try, the more I learn, the more I gain.”
Also in attendance was Senator Catherine Young, who shared her own personal stories of hardship and success. She also added, “This course and courses like this one help to find your passion. One characteristic, the most important characteristic of being a leader is courage.” Senator Young ended with a quote from Martian Luther King, “Anybody can be great, because anybody can go out and serve.”
Additional special guests and speakers at the graduation ceremony included: Lee James, representative for Congressman Tom Reed, and Gretchen Hanchett, executive director of the Greater Allegany Chamber of Commerce.
Members of the 2014 Leadership Allegany graduating class include: Rhonda Buck, human resources manager at Lufkin RMT; Erin Cornell, senior vice president for Ladies Aux. VFW Post 2530, Timothy Cox, director of instructional support services for Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES; Mary Jo Cronk, admission office receptionist at Houghton College; Julian Dautremont-Smith, chief sustainability officer at Alfred University; Shawn Derrick, loan clerk for Alco Federal Credit Union; Rory Dudley, caseworker at Allegany County Dept. of Social Services; Lori Dzielski, branch manager for Community Bank, N.A.; Lindsay Garland, palliative care and informatics nurse manager at Cuba Memorial Hospital; Marsha Holly, assistant finance director at ACCORD Corporation ; James Hutter, associate director of academic records at Houghton College; Joe Kent, owner of Kent Farms & Tall Pines ATV Park; Belinda Knight, community operations division associate director for ACCORD Corporation; Ramonia McCann, director of surgical services at Jones Memorial Hospital; Brenda Rigby Riehle, clerk for Allegany County Board of Legislators; Crystal Sallazzo, branch supervisor, loan officer at Alco Federal Credit Union; Jim Sherrard, coordinator at Cuba NY Chamber of Commerce; Melissa Vennard, director of quality management for Allegany Arc; Abigail Wonderling, finance coordinator at the Allegany County United Way
More information about Leadership Allegany can be found online at www.leadershipalleganyny.org.