By EMILY SPARACINO | Staff Writer
COLUMBIANA – The Shelby County Commission on May 9 received updates regarding Shelby County’s operating budget and leadership program.
Shelby County Tourism and Events Manager Kendall Williams presented an overview of this year’s Leadership Shelby County activities, which culminated in the Class of 2022’s graduation luncheon on Tuesday, May 10.
“We wanted to come give a year in review since it’s been just over a year now that the program has been brought under the county’s guidance,” said Williams, who serves as the executive director of Leadership Shelby County, a community-based leadership program . “It’s been a great year.”
Williams thanked the commission for helping to make the county’s tourism and events into a department, particularly with the addition of a coordinator position.
Maggie Behrle, a graduate of Shelby County High School and the University of Montevallo, was recently named the coordinator of tourism and events and assists Williams with the department’s responsibilities.
Williams said changes have been made to the Leadership Shelby County class days, which include the opening retreat, Shelby County Government Day, Justice Day, Health and Community Services Day, Economic Development Day, Education Day, Government Day and DiscoverShelby Day.
“The smoothness of the class days has been very noticeable from those who have been planning it for years and years,” Williams said, noting the program being housed under the county has streamlined the planning process. “It’s really elevated what we can do for the class and moving the program forward.”
Shelby County Probate Judge Allison Boyd, who serves as the Leadership Shelby County board vice president, said the challenges the program has encountered since 2020 prompted the board to make positive changes.
“We have seen a true focus on leadership,” Boyd said, noting the program’s renewed emphasis on pouring into its class members. “We’re not a leadership development program, so we’re not going to give them classes on how to become leaders; They are already by virtue of being in this class. However, what we are trying to do is give them little things that they can take back with them.”
For example, each class day has a leadership moment, in which an industry leader talks about a generic leadership skill or experience that is applicable to any industry.
Boyd also noted the strength in the program’s applicants and class members, who represent many different areas, and existing and new businesses, throughout the county.
Regarding tourism and events, Williams talked about the variety of events that have taken place in Shelby County in the last year, from fishing tournaments to dog shows to trail runs, along with upcoming events.
“There’s a theme of what draws people to our area for these events, and that’s the outdoor economy that we have—our parks, our trails, the lakes, everything,” Williams said. “With that, we’ve been on a journey to rebrand Discover Shelby.”
DiscoverShelby.com is the county’s tourism and events landing page, where people can find information and links to the Discover Shelby social media pages.