Shen Co Chamber program aims to train new leaders

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald

WOODSTOCK — The Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce is launching a new program to train the next generation of county leaders.

Leadership Shenandoah County, which the chamber announced on June 7, is a nine-month series of classes that will teach students about major facets of the county’s government and economy, and how to resolve problems within them.

The program opens with an orientation session and retreat on Sept. 8, followed by the first class on agriculture and tourism on Sept. 22. Each subsequent class takes place on the second Friday of the month from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Topics include education, health care, public safety, local and state government, business and industry and nonprofits. Tuition costs $250 for all seven classes, the retreat and the graduation session on April 13, 2018.

Qualified students must live or work in the county and be at least 21 years old.

Applications are due to the chamber’s office at 103 S. Main St. in Woodstock by July 14. Chamber Vice President Chris Boies said the chamber is setting a maximum number of students at 18 to 24, which could change depending on the demand for the classes.

The program’s goal is to introduce people to how the county works and how they can participate in it, Boies said.

“We want to teach both leadership skills and knowledge of what’s going on in the community,” he said. “They’ll learn not only how to communicate with employees, but also, with education, the challenges in how to teach students, budgets and student readiness.”

Sharon Baroncelli, the chamber’s executive director, hopes that students will have the knowledge and resources to contribute to county leadership when they finish the program.

“We want to develop and educate up and coming business and community leaders,” she said. “They will be spokespersons for our quality of life. They’ll understand the community and what the community needs.”

Classes will include tours of local farms and businesses, the RSW Regional Jail and Shenandoah Memorial Hospital. Students also must attend at least one meeting of the Board of Supervisors and the School Board.

For more information on the program, visit

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