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At long last, leadership class graduates

  • The Leadership Lakes graduating Class of 2020 at the Belknap Mill ceremony. Courtesy

  • Jennifer Kelley, second from left, receiving her Adrienne Stevens Founder’s Award for Leadership from Adrienne’s nephew and niece, Chris and Tammy Stevens. Last year’s recipient, Andrea Condodemetraky (left) and Leadership Lakes Chairman Don Morrissey (right) share the moment. —Courtesy

Published: 7/29/2021 1:33:16 PM

Leadership Lakes Region recently conducted its 22nd annual graduation ceremony with 24 Lakes Region professionals joining the alumni ranks. Since its inception in 1998, the nonprofit group has graduated 409 members.

“This was a challenging time for our class due to COVID,” stated Program Coordinator Jennifer McLean. She pointed out that the current graduating class started their eight-month leadership journey in October 2019 but was forced to suspend all meetings and program events due to the pandemic in early 2020. The group restarted in May 2021 to complete the remaining three Program Days and graduate. Throughout the pandemic-driven hiatus, McLean kept the group engaged through on-line “face-to-face” meetings and personal contact.

The class picked up right where they left off and completed social issues, health issues, and Lakes Day culminating in the graduation ceremony held at the remodeled, updated Belknap Mill. Featured guest speaker was Rusty McLear, former CEO of Hampshire Hospitality Holdings and the driving visionary behind the resurgence of the Meredith area as a tourist destination as well as the development of the Interstate 93 rest stop facilities.

Another ceremony highlight was the selection of class member Jennifer Kelley, Executive Director of the Lakes Region Children’s Auction, as the recipient of the Adrienne Stevens Founders’ Award for Leadership. The award, named in honor and memory of the late Adrienne Stevens, a founding force behind the creation of Leadership Lakes Region in the late 1990s, is presented by her family to that graduate who, in a vote by their peers, exemplifies the community volunteerism and leadership of Adrienne Stevens. The award was presented by Chris and Tammy Stevens, Adrienne’s nephew and niece, assisted by last year’s recipient, Andrea Condodemetraky.

This year’s graduating class was made up of residents from 14 area communities and represented careers in banking, energy management, non-profit agencies, senior living, education, healthcare, the legal profession, public safety, tourism, financial management and architecture. A full listing of the 24 graduates, along with information about the next Leadership Lakes Region class starting in October, 2021, may be found at Applications for the next class are currently being accepted.

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