They are our visionaries, our elected officials, our mentors. They lead capital campaigns, advocate for the underserved, serve on our boards and speak out against injustice. They are leaders who have served our community in countless ways, large and small, for 30 years. And much of the legacy they have created is thanks in part to Leadership Stark County.

Starting in January and continuing through the May issue, we are celebrating Leadership Stark County’s milestone anniversary by recognizing 30 of Leadership’s graduates in the pages of About. These “30 Faces of Leadership” typify all of the 1,200 Leadership Stark County graduates who are living the mission of commitment to our community. Read on for first-person accounts of how Leadership Stark County has helped this fourth collection of graduates prosper through the personal and professional development the program offers.

Marcia K. Zawacky

Harrison Hills Neighborhood Association & president, Friends of Fort Laurens
Signature Program, 4th Class
The experience of learning about different leadership styles and how to successfully use them to accomplish a task has helped me be more patient and understanding when it seems like we’re struggling to achieve something.

Robert Fonte

Park director/projects manager, Stark County Park District
Signature Program, 6th Class
There are so many parts of the community that as individuals we are not aware of, and Leadership Stark County made many of these diverse agencies accessible to the class. This awareness has been invaluable to the growth of Stark Parks since we rarely do a project by ourselves.

Candy Wallace

Retired community volunteer
Signature Program, 6th Class
I was asked to teach storyboarding to future classes as a selection tool for their group projects. This became a unique opportunity as I met the individuals with each new Leadership Stark County class. My mental list of willing volunteers grew yearly, and I called on quite a few when looking for the perfect person for a volunteer task.

Judge Michael L. Howard

Retired Judge of Stark County Family Court
Signature Program, 7th Class
I gained a true understanding of community stewardship: the concept that we are all just passing through, but that we have a responsibility to work while we are here to leave the community better than when we found it. For me, that has been a guiding principle.

Karen Brenneman

Managing partner, Hall Kistler & Company LLP
Signature Program, 15th Class
Our first full day of the retreat for the 15th class was on 9/11. As a class, we stood and watched the terrorism happening in the U.S., and we were given even more purpose for being involved in our community.

Michael R. Shreffler

Northwest Local Schools Superintendent
Signature Program, 18th Class
My Leadership Stark County experience helped me to grow as a leader and reach a higher potential as a community leader. It helped me to broaden my thinking and expand my personal vision for a better Stark County.