Newton Falls – For many Americans April 16th was a day to breathe a little easier now that their government-required financial filing is done for another year. But Newton Falls Mayor Lyle Waddell had more to celebrate last Tuesday than just the end of tax season.
Members of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber and their guests gathered at Ciminero’s Banquet Centre in Niles for a congratulatory dinner commemorating the accomplishments of the graduates of the 2013 Mahoning Valley Local Government Leadership Academy, a nine-week course that helps students become more effective leaders in their communities.
After dinner was served, Tony Paglia, Chamber Vice President of Government Affairs, welcomed everyone to the evening’s festivities, mentioning that the Leadership Academy’s class is a “class of doers” who are “obviously interested in improving yourselves” before giving a brief rundown of the comments and suggestions submitted on the course-end surveys. “We need more people like you,” he said, “who are engaged in their community. It makes for a better Mahoning Valley.” Mr. Paglia then acknowledged several alumni of the program who were present at the ceremony before turning the podium over to Thomas Humphries, President and CEO of the Chamber, who extended congratulations to the graduates on completing the course.
Sponsors of this year’s Academy were Blair & Latell Law Firm and Burk Enterprises, and Matt Blair presented two very special awards that were designed to be given to alumni of the program who have taken what they learned in the course and applied it to their roles in their respective communities. When naming these awards, the Chamber wanted to acknowledge members of the valley who continually strive to make the area better in whatever ways they can, serving as examples and inspiring others through their leadership. Though there were admittedly several candidates considered for the namesakes, one of the awards is deservingly named after Mr. Humphries while the other honor is shared by Clarence Smith, a former Republican Committee Chairman, and Fred Alberini, a former Trumbull County Democratic Party leader.
Elegantly-designed plaques from Wendell August Forge were obtained for the occasion and engraved with each recipient’s name. Before the plaques were given out, Fred Alberini took the podium and encouraged great leaders to “Be fair, be active, and get along with everybody.” He also reminded the students to “take your knowledge in leadership skills and actively apply them in your other committees, your community.”
Mark Munroe spoke on behalf of Clarence Smith who was out of town for the evening. “We are our brother’s keeper and public service and leadership is a way to uphold that promise,” he stated.
When asked “What motivates you?” Mr. Humphries gave the audience an impromptu leadership lesson emphasizing that “I really like doing what I do. I’ve tried all my life to seek out positions so I can make a difference and effectively make change, have an impact on those around me for the better.”
“I’ve never been embarrassed to tell people I like to lead,” he said. “Being able to help other people – it’s part of my religion, my soul, my beliefs. Remembering my name isn’t what’s important – it’s that I made a difference that’s important.”
The Clarence Smith/Fred Alberini Leadership Award was presented to Chief of Warren Police Tim Bowers, a 2011 graduate of the Academy. Newton Falls Mayor Lyle Waddell, also a 2011 graduate, received the Thomas M. Humphries Public Service Award in recognition of working to make positive change in the small community and turn the negative headlines around, including through efforts with the Newton Falls Area Commerce Association and plans to collaborate with neighboring communities to develop the economic profile of area businesses. During his acceptance remarks, Mayor Waddell stated that he “learned a tremendous amount out of the class.”
Closing out the evening’s activities, Joe Lucente presented certificates to this year’s graduates and gave a brief history of the program and how it has grown throughout the area. In just six years, approximately 130 students have graduated from the course.
Congratulations to Mayor Waddell and Chief Bowers, and to all the graduates of this year’s Leadership Academy class.