Leadership Johns Creek 2013 leaves rich legacy

Public art, veterans memorial get start as class projects

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – The fourth graduating class of Leadership Johns Creek graduated in the thunder and lightning Thursday night, but maybe that was a portent of the great things the 24 members of the class will yet do.

Certainly their yearlong projects have set the bar high for next year’s class. In addition to the nine-month commitment these men and women who were nominated for the class made, they were tasked to change the community in some positive way.

Leadership Johns Creek is designed to develop leadership talent from among the citizens of Johns Creek. They come from all walks of life – the business community, government and nonprofit agencies.

In addition to leadership training and development, class members tour many government and business institutions in the city and the county. The idea is to see firsthand and learn how the community functions through its institutions.

They attend a two-day retreat and then one-day seminars throughout the year. Key to their development are the class projects that are also a requirement.

The members are split into four teams. They then come up with a project for the benefit of the city and create a business plan to make it happen. This year’s class outdid themselves.

Two of the teams chose projects to benefit one of the city’s treasures – Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center. Their projects repaired or replaced some of the aging infrastructure – building new storage bins and replacing old and worn out office furniture.

The class showed its respect for old Johns Creek – which includes the old unincorporated communities of Ocee, Newtown, Warsaw and Shakerag – with its devotion to Autrey Mill.

One team took on a second project. This they called Prom-a-Palooza, in which they collected gently used prom dresses to give to girls who might not otherwise have a dress for the ball.

Another team showed its respect to another group worthy of recognition. This took the form of the creation of the Johns Creek Veterans Memorial Walk at Newtown Park. Enlisting the help of the Johns Creek Veterans Association, they then approached the Johns Creek City Council to get permission to dedicate 4 acres of the park to memorialize U.S. veterans since World War II. The cost is estimated at $300,000, which will be raised by private donations.

Finally, a fourth team’s project was to create the framework that will allow public art on publically owned land in the city. This required creating a Public Art Master Plan, holding public hearings and finally getting the city to adopt ordinances to allow it to happen.

The city is compiling a Public Art Board from volunteers who post their nomination on the city website.

Ron Jones, who founded the Leadership program in Johns Creek, said he was impressed with this year’s class.

“Your contributions to the city have been immense,” Jones told the class on graduation night.

Kent Davies, a Leadership JC board member, told the class they had learned a great deal in the year that they dedicated to service. He challenged them to go forth and be “visionaries” and “servant leaders.”