Inspiring Heroes by Giving Back

by Susan Bucci

Simply put, I love Greenville.  This constantly-growing city has so much to offer for students, families, and business.  What goes in to making this city work, and work so well?  With that question in mind, I jumped at the opportunity to learn more through the Chamber Leadership Institute, but I was entirely unprepared for how much I would get out of the experience.  Not only did the program develop leadership skills that can be applied within my business and community, it shed a new light on Greenville and its remarkable residents.   

As part of the Leadership Institute, participants experienced in-depth tours of Grady White Boats, Mayne Pharma, and Hyster-Yale, which provided more than just perspective about the massive industries that contribute to the city—it was learning about the impact each industry has on our community, providing jobs and opportunities, that was most eye opening.  Tours of local schools were more than just a ‘show and tell’ of what the city offers its citizens—each area showed how the teachers utilize every resource possible to create a multi-faceted learning environment for their students.  Each new experience led to greater revelations about Greenville.  Greenville is more than just industry, business, or ‘constants’ (i.e., schools, community organizations, etc.).  Greenville is a community where every aspect impacts the greater whole.  

I found the Chamber Leadership Institute to be such a rewarding opportunity, but the best part was the relationships that were built through crisscrossing professional and personal endeavors. The Chamber Leadership Institute provided prospective for how something made up of a small group of individuals ultimately have a large impact on the city through teamwork and a collaborative goal.

Chamber Leadership Institute

In its most basic form, the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Institute strives to provide Greenville-Pitt County with an enduring source of diverse leaders who are prepared and committed to serving the community.  During the eight-month program, participants get an in-depth view of community issues, develop leadership skills necessary to assume leadership roles, and are exposed to community involvement opportunities.  Participants study the qualities that make an effective leader, analyze individual leadership roles, and develop personal leadership styles and skills.  The program will open your eyes to new challenges and opportunities and the role you can play in shaping the future of our community and region.   

With extensive hands-on experience, participants fully explore topics such as: education, government and law, arts and culture, economic development, health care, business and industry, and media.  Throughout the Institute, Andy Herdman, VP of Human Resources at Mayne Pharma energetically presents sessions focused on leadership styles, skills and qualities.    

The program culminates with a graduation ceremony and the unveiling of the class project.  Once graduated, participants become alumni of the program and continue their impact on the Greenville-Pitt County community through the skills and experiences they gained through the Chamber Leadership Institute.  

To put its impact in perspective, the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Institute has trained and graduated over 925 civic leaders since its inception in 1983, and continues to extend its reach each year.

The ultimate goal of the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Institute is for participants to become actively involved in leadership roles in the community, thus enriching the quality of life and shaping the future.   Beyond the previously noted experiences that the participants have, they will also gain:

•  Personal leadership skills and development

•  An in-depth view of critical issues facing our community

•  Opportunities to discuss key issues with community leaders

•  Access to opportunities for community involvement

•  New and strengthened relationships with peers

Beyond the personal development, it is perhaps the final project of the Institute, that provides the most potential impact on the community, and allows the participants to exhibit their experiences in one collaboration.

Group Create, Find Your Inner Hero

Early in the program, Leadership Institute participants are challenged to complete a group project that will better our community and be sustainable—something that continues to provide.  With those simple instructions and endless possibilities, our group struggled to decide on a project. With so many creative minds, varied backgrounds and professional walks, different passions and needs in the community, choosing just one was a challenge.  

During one meeting, we each discussed our passions, and our project finally came into a focus.  Our mission was to promote literacy and leadership character. With an idea in hand, “Group Create” organized a beautification project within the playground area of the CM Eppes Recreation Center. 

How could we make this interesting to the citizens, lasting, and impactful?  Super Heroes! The theme encourages us to remember that we all have choices. It inspires us to find the hero within ourselves.   Our final gift to the community supplied fully stocked, handmade “little lending libraries,” new benches featuring hand-painted inspirational quotes, and an energetic environment for the citizens to play, read, and enjoy. 

Interested in diving into this wonderful experience? The application window for the 2019-2020 session of the Chamber Leadership Institute begins in May. For more information, visit or contact Kimber Stone at

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