Statewide program collaborates with area leaders for a network of successful change

January 10, 2008

(Martinsville, VA) - LEAD VIRGINIA, a statewide leadership program, has received a grant from The Harvest Foundation in the amount of $50,000 over two years. LEAD VIRGINIA, a non-partisan network of informed and active leaders with a shared vision for the Commonwealth's future is focused on issues of regional importance as well as how those needs connect to the statewide network. The program creates and links leaders across the state that are empowered to drive momentum of positive economic and social change for all Virginians with a special focus on serving low to moderate income families. LEAD VIRGINIA has offered classes annually, beginning in 2005, and has graduated 124 leaders throughout the state.

"It is critical that leaders and innovators become better connected through relationships with key influencers and constituents from all regions of the Commonwealth. The many diverse localities of our state call for equally differing solutions to their challenges, and LEAD VIRGINIA participants are well equipped to contribute to and craft those solutions as a result of the understanding and appreciation for that diversity gained by program participation," stated Susan Horne, President and CEO of LEAD VIRGINIA.

LEAD VIRGINIA's program offers an annual sequence of seven monthly program sessions, each located in a different region throughout the state. Every class goes through the entire program together each year, beginning with an orientation session in April and concluding with a graduation and alumni brunch in November. Each class contains approximately 40 leaders from a diverse range of professional backgrounds and experience. The program is designed to challenge pre-conceived perceptions and invite evaluation through a focus on present realities in each of the regions. It broadens the perspectives of participants, expanding their capacity to collaborate, manage conflict, and lead in changing environments.

"LEAD VIRGINIA is a model unlike any other in the United States. It brings together prominent leaders throughout the Commonwealth to collaborate and share experiences to identify how common challenges in areas of health, education, economic development, and city planning can be overcome. Several of our community leaders have participated and continue to collaborate with other graduates of this program," says Richard Killingsworth, Executive Director of The Harvest Foundation. "We have to continue to support this valuable resource which brings Virginians together for the greater good of both Martinsville-Henry County and Southern Virginia."

"Leadership is an objective that will have far-reaching impact for this region and the Commonwealth. The leadership skills that are brought about by LEAD VIRGINIA are in high demand and there are many benefits from this program that will continue to improve the quality of life throughout Martinsville- Henry County," Allyson Rothrock, Assistant Executive Director of The Harvest Foundation.

The LEAD VIRGINIA curriculum targets issues through six primary perspectives:
Technology, economic development, demographics, transportation, growth management and quality of life. Participants increase their knowledge and understanding of issues and build the social capital necessary to lead Virginia and this region forward. They focus on this issue-related content rather than individual skill development, like most other leadership programs of its kind. The program features elaborate presentations, case studies, site visits, and experimental activities that serve as resources and points of discussion.

"Participating in the inaugural class of LEAD VIRGINIA was a wonderful experience. It allowed me to network with leaders from throughout the state, as well as learn more about key issues impacting all Virginians, such as transportation, economic development and health care. It was important to me to be a part of this initiative and be able to be a voice for rural Southside Virginia," stated Kathy Rogers, local program participant.

"I thoroughly enjoyed the LEAD VIRGINIA program. It helped me to understand that communities around the state that are very different in structure, have struggles similar to the ones we face in Martinsville- Henry County and I was able to see first hand how they addressed them. There were numerous ideas that I brought back with me and successfully adapted them to the needs of our area," said Lisa Fultz, program participant. She continued, "I go back each year to meet other alumni of the program. The networking opportunity is outstanding."

The Harvest Foundation supports health, education, and welfare initiatives that serve our vision of fostering a "community of choice" for Martinsville and Henry County, Virginia. The Harvest Foundation was established in 2002 from the sale of Memorial Hospital. For more information please go to:

A statewide organization launched in 2005, LEAD VIRGINIA is gathering proven leaders from across the Commonwealth to gain a deeper understanding of the issues affecting the state's future prosperity .For more information about LEAD VIRGINIA visit


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