Leadership Chattanooga Grads Speak

Amanda Ellis

We congratulated our own class of 2018 this spring as 38 Leadership Chattanooga graduates crossed the stage May 18. Here, two of our 2018 class members share their Leadership Chattanooga experience.

Leadership Chattanooga prepares talented local professionals for prominent business, cultural and political roles through a 10-month leadership development program.

The program is made up of monthly meetings exploring challenges facing our community, supplemented by experiential learning opportunities, interaction with top local and state leadership and community service projects.

Trend: What was your most eye-opening experience as part of this program?

Courtney Krueger, First Cumberland Presbyterian Church: Simultaneously learning about Chattanooga’s amazing revitalization while also learning about those who have been left behind during that revitalization. 

Althea Jones, TVA: I had an ‘aha’ moment at every session. There are so many great things going on in Chattanooga that I had no idea existed. Time spent with our police department and education leaders was especially impactful.


Trend: How has your Leadership Chattanooga experience influenced you and your work?

Krueger: As a relative newcomer to our area – I’ve lived here for two years – I feel more connected.  I know more about Chattanooga and I know more Chattanoogans! As the leader of a church, I’m more enthusiastic about helping Chattanooga’s most vulnerable residents and breaking down racial, economic and other barriers between Chattanoogans. I’ve loved getting to know the members of my class and have already engaged several of them in my work.

Jones: I’ve come home after every session excited about the new things I learned. I’m already exploring ways to become better plugged into the city and to increase my influence in organizations and activities that I am currently a member of. I’m happy to know that my Leadership Chattanooga experience doesn’t have to end at graduation. I look forward to continuing to support and serve this great program.


Trend: What surprised you about Leadership Chattanooga?

Krueger: I was pleasantly surprised by the Chamber’s emphasis on economic mobility. It’s clearly not for CEOs only.

Jones: I was surprised by the bond I formed with all 37 classmates. I went in thinking that maybe I’d connect with a handful of people, but not the entire group. I was definitely wrong. I know it’s fun for every class to say they’re the ‘best class ever,’ but I truly believe this is a special group of people and I’m a better person for knowing them.


Trend: Any advice for someone considering the program or for the next class?

Krueger: Ensure that you block off the time to participate in every class day or activity.  I attended all the classes and realized that I would have huge gaps in my understanding and experience had I missed even one.

Jones: The Leadership Chattanooga experience is a privilege, and if you are selected to participate, take full advantage. Really lean in and look for ways to immediately apply your learnings to your personal and professional life.  

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