News & Insights

Meet The New Leaders of Sullivan County

“Whatever it takes!” is the motto of this year’s Leadership Sullivan class. The program expands leadership potential of participants through educational platforms designed to broaden
individual’s knowledge of the county, improve communication skills, and increase organization and problem solving skills.

Recently, the class and members of the community gathered at the Villa Roma for a graduation ceremony. The keynote speaker was Sullivan County Deputy County Manager Dan DePew. He spoke about how all successful people have gone through hardships and failures, but they came out stronger and went on to succeed.

Leadership Sullivan is a non-partisan program that relies on support from the business community to reach its goals. The program is coordinated through the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce Foundation, a not-forprofit corporation. “We aim to take professionals and help expose them to what the county has to offer,” said Karen Russell, Chair of the Sullivan County Chamber Foundation. “In turn they contribute their time. It’s full circle.”

The 10-month program begins with a two-day retreat where participants discuss leadership and do team-building exercises. From there, they learn about the many facets of life in Sullivan County: agriculture and tourism; crime and justice system; media and communications; health and human services; government and politics; economic development; education; environmental; and quality of life.

The message of “whatever it takes!” could be seen through the class project. Every year participants of Leadership Sullivan must complete a class project, and this year they worked on the Rails to Trails walking trails in Parksville and Hurleyville. The team pulled a boat from the water that has been there for over 10 years, a nuisance to residents. A video presented at the graduation showed the team clearing the trails, pulling the boat from the water, and local residents who use the trails commending their work.

Class President Campbell Lumbila, when he addressed the audience, spoke about what they have learned in the program. “We have learned that tourism is making a comeback and it’s not just about the casino,” he said. “It’s about the bed and breakfast places, the small businesses on Broadway in Monticello and the revitalization of Main Street in Hurleyville.” He went on to list many other positive things in the county.

He then listed reasons why the county needs leaders. “We need leaders because the median income in Monticello is $26,000 and 25 percent of houses are vacant. We need leaders who will face the opioid epidemic head-on and give hope to the hopeless and find innovative solutions to the problem. You see, we need leaders because leaders solve problems. Leaders think outside the box. Leaders do ‘the other thing.’ That’s why Leadership Sullivan exists.”

At the end of the ceremony, each class member received a diploma. Class Facilitator Karen Ellsweig said she was very proud of the students. “We had a tremendous class this year,” she said. “Everybody gave two-hundred percent.”

By Isabel Braverman