By Aila Boyd

In an effort to nurture local aspiring and emerging leaders, the Botetourt Chamber of Commerce is launching its first ever Emerging Leader Series later this year.

The series will occur one day out of the month starting in September and ending in December.

“It is an outstanding opportunity to network with and learn alongside colleagues in sessions taught by leading area educational institutions,” the chamber noted in promotional material.

Each session will be presented by leadership experts from local colleges and universities.

The first session, which will be on September 19, is titled “Leading Teams for Growth.” It will be presented by Robyn Tuck from Virginia Western Community College. The session will focus on communication and listening skills, team building, conflict and change management, and maximizing strengths.

“In this workshop we will focus on the skills a new leader needs to develop to build strong and successful work teams. Topics covered in this session include, building strong communication skills, managing conflict, identify team member strengths and motivating teams. This workshop will include a high level of interaction with participants and hands-on learning strategies,” Tuck said.

The second session, which will be on October 24, is titled “Human Resources Skills.” It will be presented by Kathy Martin from Roanoke College. The session will focus on having difficult conversations, motivating employees, hiring the right people, and how to interview candidates.

“While good leadership is required for success, the ultimate prosperity of an organization is dependent on the people within. We will explore principles of developing a strong workforce, including employee interviewing and selection. We will look at ‘unfortunate hiring decisions’ and options for managing employees who have become toxic or simply don’t possess and can’t learn the skills needed for a job. Over the course of the day, we’ll engage in discussions about personnel laws, management principles, emotional intelligence, best practices, and policy tips to help equip your people management toolbox,” Martin said.

The third session, which will be on November 14, is titled “Influence Without Authority.” It will be presented by Jennifer Havens from Virginia Western Community College. The session will focus on negotiating and artful persuading, selling change, gaining commitment, and building trust.

“Every day we interact with a variety of people over which we have no real authority. The most influential of us are skilled at networking, building coalitions, persuading, and negotiating. In this workshop we will identify your influence superpowers and how they can help you navigate successfully through all your personal and professional relationships,” Havens said.

The fourth session, which will be on December 12, is titled “Critical and Creative Thinking.” It will be presented by Scott Crawford. The session will focus on critical thinking, thinking beyond self, creating and collaboration, and innovation.

“To think critically and creatively is an essential skill in the 21st century. Living in the shadow of a digital and communications revolution, along with the shift from an industrial-based to a service-based economy, innovation is essential for businesses to compete and remain relevant.  The ‘Critical and Creative Thinking’ session will focus on ways in which a business culture can facilitate the development of critical and creative thinking, as well as how individuals can develop practices to improve their critical and creative thinking skills,” Crawford said.

The series was developed by the Business Growth Committee of the Botetourt Chamber of Commerce. It was developed around a poll of chamber members that was conducted to help the committee determine what type of topics they would like to see in a leadership training program for high potential employees.

“In response to leadership training needs identified by Botetourt County businesses Virginia Tech, Virginia Western Community College, and Roanoke College collaborated to develop an Emerging Leaders Series of four courses launching in September.  This multi-institution collaboration is a unique approach to providing quality leadership programming leveraging the area’s local expertise,” Lesa Hanlin, the chair of the Business Growth Committee of the Botetourt Chamber of Commerce, said.

Those who complete all four sessions will receive a reflective reception immediately following the final session. During the reception, they will give a brief presentation and will receive a certificate of completion. Supervisors of those who complete all four sessions will be able to attend the reception.

Early bird registration, $499 for the series and $150 for a single session, ends on July 31.

Regular registration, $549 for the series and $199 for a single session, begins on August 1.

To register, visit

The sessions begin at 9 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. Lunch breaks will occur from 12-1 p.m.