Chamber’s Leadership Lafayette 2022 class graduates 22 leaders

Published 11:50 am Thursday, September 8, 2022

Twenty-two local leaders take their fine tuned skills into the community after graduating from the Oxford-Lafayette County  Chamber of Commerce’s 32nd annual Leadership Lafayette Program last on August 25.  The eight-month program is centered on enhancing teamwork, generating, and  executing new ideas and serving the local community. 

“I’m extremely honored each year to be a part of such a prestigious group of leaders in Lafayette Oxford University community,” said Quentin Brewer, Leadership Lafayette  Program chair. “I know this class will do like so many of the others and go on to do great  things in this community.” 


The 2022 class includes: Kelly Bell, The Isom Place; Peter Binder, Olin – Winchester;  Moneak Bobo, North Mississippi Regional Center; Rashanda Booker, University of  Mississippi; Cameron Brown, Old Navy; Jon Brown, C Spire; James Dowd,  University of Mississippi and Re/Max Legacy Realty; Shane Fortner, Oxford Police  Department; Halon Gossett, Market Realty; Duncan Gray, Oxford School District;  Elise Grenley, FNB Oxford; Kathryn Hathorne; Brittney Marks, University of  Mississippi; Jake Mitchel, University of Mississippi; Traci Moore, Baptist Memorial  Hospital; Betsy Nelson, Shared Air Solutions Consultants; Gabby Rush, Americorps  Vista-Doors of Hope Transition Ministries; Laurie Steele, City of Oxford; Castel Sweet,  University of Mississippi; Nadia Thornton, Visit Oxford; Shanika Ward, North  Mississippi Regional Center; and Taylor Webb, Tollison & Webb, P.A. 


The 2022 graduating class planned diverse community projects by dividing into four  teams that focused on the Equitable Entrepreneurship Workshop and Dinner, Oxford  Diaper Bank, Sensory Cinemas Series, and the 50th Anniversary of the Yoknapatawpha  Arts Council. 

The Entrepreneurship Dinner team focused on giving Minorities the opportunity to start  their own businesses. This dinner and workshops leading up to, educates participants  on how to begin a business, the finances and resources needed to begin a business,  marketing, and management, hiring and human resources.

The Oxford Diaper Bank group strived to establish an Oxford Diaper Bank that would  provide diapers and other essential items for people in need in the LOU community. At  the onset of the project, the group had set a lofty goal of raising $4,000 which would  purchase roughly 1,000 pallets of diapers from the Bare Needs Diaper Bank in  Memphis. At the conclusion of fundraising, the group had surpassed that goal and  raised a total of $6,854. While some of the funds were given directly to the North MS  Exchange Family Center in the form of cash, check or Venmo donations, the group  presented a check to the organization in the amount of roughly $5,200.00, to sustain the  program for at least five years without needing additional funding or donations. North  MS Exchange Family Center will take on the management of the program and the team  will stay involved.  


The Sensory Cinemas Series team was dedicated to enhancing the inclusivity of film  viewing in our local Malco Cinema Theatres. They achieved this mission through the following objectives: 1) Providing a high-quality theater experience by extending  opportunities to our community at large who may otherwise be impacted by a traditional  theatre viewing experience. 2) Educating the community about sensory-friendly  viewings and the importance of diversity and inclusion.  

The YAC group came together to honor the 50th anniversary of Yoknapatawpha Arts  Council and created a mission to sustain it for 50 more years. They helped coordinate  the final event of Hoka Days, scheduled for Friday, September 26. Hoka Days was a  month-long celebration of the arts and culture in Oxford and Lafayette County celebrating the spirit of Ron Shapiro. This year’s final event featured a second line and concert honoring Ron, which was held on the day before his birthday. 


This year’s Leadership Lafayette class presented the 2022 Leadership Award to  Shanika Ward. Ward has poured her heart into the Sensory Cinemas Project with  passion and empathy for creating a viewing atmosphere that spotlights the importance  of diversity and inclusion. “One of my biggest goals was to ensure that people with  disabilities have access to services and supports that promote self-determination,  independence, and inclusion within our community. This is especially important for  recreational opportunities and outings within our area,” said Shanika Ward. “I am so  very thankful and honored to be the recipient of this year’s distinguished Leadership  Award. The biggest reward is knowing that I had the opportunity to work and connect  with such great people and leaders within our beautiful community to build a better  future for all!” 


“This year’s class had unprecedented chemistry in their small groups,” said Pam Swain,  Leadership Lafayette program director and Senior Vice President of the Chamber. 

“They each had a great amount of passion for their community and worked hard for the  organizations they got involved with through their projects. I salute this unique group of  leaders for the lasting impact they have left on this community through their  determination and goals with their community projects.” 


The Chamber was grateful to have a graduation sponsorship in support of the class  from Paragon Bank. Paragon prides itself in two things: easy-to-use banking solutions  and amazing service from people you know. Paragon customers enjoy technology and  services comparable to those megabanks and the care and respect you only get from  friends. In the tradition of neighbors helping neighbors, when you bank with Paragon  you see them invest in the communities they serve, which is evident with their support  of Leadership Lafayette. 

The Leadership Lafayette is organized by a Steering Committee made of up hand  selected program alumni. The dedicated steering committee handles all the details of  the program, including all session speakers and locations, food details, and the intense  class selection process. The 2022 committee includes: Quentin Brewer, Program Chair,  Paragon Bank (Class of 2015); Rachel Alcorn, Communicare (Class of 2019); Wayne  Andrews, Yoknapatawpha (Class of 2021); Prema Balachandran, University of  Mississippi (Class of 2021); Kurt Brummet, United Way of Oxford (Class of 2019); Edy  Dingus, Magnolia Montessori School (Class of 2019); Caitlin Hopper, Yoknapatawpha  Arts Council (Class of 2016); Jeff McCutchen, Oxford Police Department (Class of  2018); Kristi Peeples, Renasant Bank (Class of 2010); Susan Peterson, GoodTime  (Class of 2007);Jeremy Roberts, University of Mississippi (Class of 2019); Meredith  Rawl, Family Crisis Services (Class of 2015); Peter Ross, Baptist Memorial Hospital  (Class of 2010); Sha’ Simpson, NMRC (Class of 2017); Jessica Windham, Square Real  Estate (Class of 2007).  

The 2022 class also chose four representatives to join other alumni on the steering committee. Those selected to join the team were Peter Binder, James Dowd, Brittney  Marks, and Shanika Ward. 

The Chamber of Commerce will begin accepting applications for the 2023 Leadership Lafayette class in October 2022. 

About the Chamber of Commerce 

The Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce is the most dynamic business  organization in our community, where businesses and professionals come together to  work to improve the business climate and quality of life for our area. With over 700  members, the Chamber strives to undertake programs and projects, which seek a 

positive business climate conducive to growth of the private enterprise system, raising  per capita income and providing strong financial, physical and human resources for the  citizens of Oxford and Lafayette County. These goals are accomplished through a  variety of avenues including networking opportunities, seminars, events, marketing  opportunities, referrals, exclusive discounts, leadership programs or other resources  available exclusively to Chamber members.