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  • Writer's pictureCameron Cochran

Wilson 20/20 Initiative Focuses on Leadership

Posted December 2, 2015

By Rochelle Moore, Wilson Daily Times Staff Writer

John Forehand wanted to better connect to the Wilson community when he joined a new Wilson 20/20 initiative.

As one of more than a dozen participants, Forehand is part of the first class of Impact Initiative: Cultivating Visionary Leadership for Wilson, an 18-month training program designed by Wilson 20/20, the Wilson Chamber of Commerce and Wilson Economic Development Council.

The program seeks to develop area leaders willing to serve and interested in tackling local challenges. Each Impact Initiative group will identify a local challenge and develop a white paper addressing the issue.

Impact Initiative is part of Wilson 20/20’s community leadership and civic engagement focus area of the Beyond 21 plan, which was launched in May.

“Personally, what I’m going to gain is a better knowledge of issues that are occurring in Wilson County,” Forehand said. “I think I’ll have a better grasp of the people of Wilson County and, ultimately, I’ll have a better leadership skills to help serve on committees to, hopefully, better serve the citizens of Wilson.”

Impact Initiative is designed to identify, train and deploy people who have an interest in representative leadership positions within the Wilson area. Participants who finish the program will be prepared to serve on area boards, committees or pursue elected office.

The first group includes 18 men and women from a variety of professions. Forehand is a project manager at 3C Store Fixtures.

“There’s about 17 to 20 people in this program, and it’s ranging anywhere from the restaurant industry to manufacturing, government, private, public and education,” Forehand said.

Prior to 3C, Forehand was a district executive for the East Carolina Council of the Boy Scouts. He was first stationed in Wilson, but later transferred to other areas of the state. When he was offered a job at 3C Store Fixtures, he saw it as an opportunity to return to Wilson. Joining the Impact group was another opportunity to serve, he said.

“Realistically, ever since I graduated college and moved to Wilson, it’s been home,” he said. “It’s family. It’s given a lot to me, both personally and professionally, and I want to be able to give back to the community.”

The group has so far determined that its white paper, which will be presented at the 2017 annual Wilson 20/20 meeting, will likely explore Wilson’s unemployable population and high unemployment rate, Forehand said.

The Beyond 21 plan has five other areas of focus that include unemployment and underemployment, talent retention and attraction, health and wellness, the elderly and aging population and entrepreneurship. Beyond 21 involves studying issues related to adults age 21 and older. The project follows Wilson 20/20’s Youth Master Plan.

“Like the Youth Master Plan before it, the Beyond 21 planning process is revealing just how much talent and strength we have in this community,” said Ryan Simons, leader of the community leadership and civic engagement group. “Each of the team leaders understands that we have an obligation to utilize those strengths to our advantage, enable cooperation, and promote available resources to people who may not be aware that they even exist.”

Simons’ group has put together an inventory of challenges and opportunities related to the following elements: leadership training and development, diversity or representative equity, grassroots involvement and volunteer engagement, and parenting and family life. Some of the participants in the group include representatives from Barton College, the city of Wilson, Wilson County, Wilson Medical Center and the faith community.

The Beyond 21 plan and the work of all its groups will be presented during Wilson 20/20’s annual meeting in 2016.

“As expected, our team’s work is also revealing some weaknesses and failures,” Simons said. “We’re not doing a great job of connecting Millenials with service opportunities. Boards and committees across this community do not always fairly represent our diversity. We may not be as warm to welcome newcomers as we have the potential to be.

“The good news is that we have the ability and resources to overcome these challenges, but we need to have a deliberate approach, which is exactly what Beyond 21 is intended to be.”

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