Special to the Journal

The Belton Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated graduates of the Leadership Belton Class of 2024 at a special luncheon on Thursday, June 13 at the Harris Community Center.

Emilio Perales, Board Immediate Past Chair, provided a message to encourage and inspire the new graduates as they continue their servant leadership in our community.

Graduates of the Leadership Belton Class of 2024 are Jennifer Bailey, Executive Director for Communications and Community Engagement with Belton ISD; Taylor Bean, Director of Quality Assurance for Bean Family Enterprises/Main Street Medical; David Borden, CFO for Texell Credit Union; Kenna Brockway Calderon, Taproom Manager, Events Coordinator and Social Media Manager for Nolan Creek Brewery; Meredith Duke, Associate Broker for Duke Realty; Apple Fulton, Human Resource Manager for Emerson Construction; Jennifer Hammonds, Director Consulting Delivery for CGI; Alicia Jallah, Executive Director for Helping Hands Ministry; Tiffany Marek, Account Executive for Lamar Advertising; Katherine Mutchler, Administrative Assistant for Belton Economic Development Corporation and Belton Area Chamber of Commerce; Alexis Sarinana, Director of Member Engagement for the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce; and April Williams, Banking Specialist with Extraco Banks.

Leadership Belton is a 10-month program sponsored by the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce focusing on three key elements: community awareness training, leadership training, and team building. The program provides opportunities for participants to learn about and engage in the community through site visits, meetings and presentations with community leaders, and working on project teams.

Participants are selected through an application process and meet monthly with a specific focus for each session. The first session focuses on leadership skills and team building, with other sessions focusing on Social Services, Education (public, private, and post- secondary), Healthcare, Economic Development, City and County Government, State Government, Quality of Life/Recreation, and the Military (Fort Cavazos). Visits to key locations around the Belton area for a behind-the-scenes look at the operations of various businesses and organizations include opportunities to meet with a variety of community leaders.

Another significant element of the program is the team building component. The class is asked to select a project within our community that will have a lasting impact. Each group is assigned a mentor to assist in the project planning and implementation process. Chamber Board Members Jared Porritt and Teri Champlin served as mentors for groups this year. These projects become a source of pride for the members, as well as an opportunity to contribute to the betterment of the community.

The projects for this year are a Welcome to Belton sign for the north side of town on FM 317, and expansion of the Light Pole Banner Brackets in the downtown Belton area. Team members provided status updates on their projects at the graduation luncheon.

“Leadership Belton continues to be an exceptional experience for our participants,” stated Randy Pittenger, Belton Area Chamber President/CEO. “The opportunities to learn and grow have been significant not only for each participant, but also for our community. We are proud of the work they have done and know they are well equipped to be leaders in our community.”

The Chamber is currently accepting applications for the next Leadership Belton class set to begin in September.

For more information about Leadership Belton, other programs, or membership in the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce, visit the website at www.beltonchamber.com, call 254-939-3551, or email info@beltonchamber.com.