Continuing on the Path to Normal

June 14, 2021Doug Peters, President & CEO of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce

Think of it as the class that almost wasn’t.

I am very happy and grateful to let you know that one significant program of your Abilene Chamber of Commerce is back and ready to go.

I’m referring to Leadership Abilene.

I vividly remember the hard work of 2020 when the “next best class” applied for this storied program. Everything was normal – far more applicants than space in the class. Dedicated volunteers who sat on a committee to review the volume of applications and to assess them for acceptance. And the leaders – all of whom are proud Leadership Alumni – who’d worked tirelessly to prepare for the class sessions and to ensure the camaraderie that takes place among those who participate.

And then, a dilemma.

After all the prep, the effort, the excitement – we had to put what was to be last year’s Leadership Abilene class on-hold. And it was painful. Thanks, COVID 19.

But here’s what I’ve learned about the leaders who drive this program – and the people who participate: they are serious about making good things happen. And a pandemic-induced delay was not a deterrent. Sounds like Abilene, doesn’t it?

The Chamber’s storied Leadership Abilene program will launch soon like the pandemic never happened. All the planning has been done. And in September the 2021 Class (now known as the Class of 2022) will launch.

I want to thank the program chairman, Tim Farrar (United Supermarkets) who was a flexible and driven partner as we worked together to figure out exactly what to do.

And you know what? Tim, now in his third year as Chair (technically his second since we postponed last year), surrounded by fellow alumni laser-focused on delivering on the shoulders of the program’s past – figured it out.

So how does this year’s program work?

We won’t be accepting applications for Leadership Abilene this year. This year’s class was selected months ago and put in a holding pattern, and I’m happy to report that the same class remains positioned to take advantage of all that the program is. It’s as if the pandemic never happened.

The class schedule remains the same, with exception of an added flex day in the event something else weird happens.

I was thinking back about all the alumni who’ve gone through the Leadership Abilene program over the years. People like Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams, City Councilwoman Donna Albus, State Representative Stan Lambert, Rentech Boiler Systems Founder Jack Rentz, Grace Museum Executive Director (and incoming Chamber Chair of the Board) Laura Moore…we can see the results among the hundreds of people who’ve graduated from the program. They’ve literally changed our community.

To see who the movers and shakers are that will participate this year, click HERE.

I want to thank my staff and the scores of volunteers who worked to ensure a seamless transition for this and all our programming while we dealt with the pandemic and its implications on our community.

I have absolutely no doubt that Leadership Abilene, back and better than ever, will serve the same function and exceed expectations just as it has for decades.

After all, preparing our people for servant leadership is important, especially in a community like ours where we take care of each other and drive progress through the leadership of individuals who invest in this and other valuable programs.




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