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Six Blue Ridge Employees Complete the Western Community College Leadership Academy

Six participants from Blue Ridge Community College recently completed the Western Community College Leadership Academy. Pictured, from left: Cale Maybin, assistant facilities director; Stacy Hill, employability lab instructor; Cearra Selbrade, counselor; Grace Solle, instructional coordinator; Ben Hardy, Transylvania County Campus faculty chair; and Matthew Broome, welding faculty coordinator. (Photo courtesy of the Blue Ridge Community College Marketing and Communications Department.)

On April 29, six Blue Ridge Community College employees completed the one-year Western Community College Leadership Academy.

A collaboration between Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (A-B Tech), Blue Ridge Community College, and Haywood Community College, the academy equips values-driven, high-potential, high-performing leaders who think and collaborate in new and different ways.

Each college selected six participants. Blue Ridge’s selections included Ben Hardy, Cale Maybin, Cearra Selbrade, Grace Solle, Matthew Broome and Stacy Hill. They were chosen by the College’s senior leadership team with President Dr. Laura Leatherwood’s endorsement.

Many of the participants stated they were truly honored – but surprised – to be chosen for the academy, including employability lab instructor Stacy Hill.

“My first thought was, ‘I’m not in a leadership position,’” she said. “But it was mentioned that leadership is not a title, it’s more of a demonstration of good character – a positive attitude and consistent ethical behaviors. So then I was told, ‘Stacy, you are a leader.’”

College counselor Cearra Selbrade said being chosen meant the College saw potential in her abilities to serve Blue Ridge and help it grow as an institution.

Participating college presidents served as the academy sponsors, and sessions were held on each of the three campuses. The primary facilitator and coordinator was Barbara Browning, director of professional development at A-B Tech.

Blue Ridge Transylvania County Campus (TCC) faculty chair Ben Hardy described the academy as a well-designed educational experience.

“I really enjoyed collaborating with colleagues from all three participating colleges,” Hardy said.

Grace Solle, Blue Ridge instructional coordinator, and Cale Maybin, assistant facilities director, said they have already started applying what they learned to their roles at Blue Ridge.

Welding faculty coordinator Matthew Broome found the material eye-opening. It also caused him to evaluate his own leadership style and how he might use it to further his own personal development.

Prior to the academy’s start, participants were given reading materials in the form of the book “The Humble Inquiry,” which explains that no matter what our roles in life are, we are all leaders in some form or fashion.

Hill said “The Humble Inquiry” gave her excellent perspective, and it opened her eyes to the gentle art of “asking instead of telling” that defines leadership.

The academy included nine half-day sessions over nine months.

“The academy met entirely in person and it was wonderful,” Selbrade added. “There was purposeful seating to ensure everyone had the chance to work together.”

Topics included defining leadership; emotional intelligence; fundamental frameworks for community college leaders; a leader’s role in organizational collaboration; leading change in a complex world; developing a culture of trust; and developing a leadership future.

In 2023, the academy will continue and expand to include Southwestern Community College.