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DeKalb LEADS celebrates class of 2022

Sarah Payne

May 27, 2022

DeKalb LEADS is thrilled to announce the graduation of its second cohort with the class of 2021-22. DeKalb LEADS is DeKalb County’s premier leadership development program offering an innovative approach to cultivating leaders.

Started in 2020 with a vision to develop a pipeline of leaders in the community, DeKalb LEADS began as a partnership with Community Foundation DeKalb County and the DeKalb Chamber Partnership, and created a steering committee with expertise across industry, geography, and demographics. In early 2022, DeKalb LEADS partnered with Fortify LEADS to identify opportunities for supporting leadership development in DeKalb County and beyond.

With the community as its classroom, the DeKalb LEADS class of 21-22 took a holistic approach to understand community development, build relationships, and develop 21st century skills. The class offered great representation of DeKalb County by working with leaders across demographics, business sectors, and geography. “From Ashley to St. Joe, Auburn to Garrett, DeKalb LEADS graduates are showing up, digging in, and helping to grow our community,” says Sarah Payne, VP of Fortify LEADS. 2021-22 cohort participants include the following:

  • Kathleen Alter | Community Foundation DeKalb County

  • Crystal Church-Stavitzke | EasterSeals RISE

  • Mary Diehl | Butler Dental Group

  • Leslie Friedel | Stillwater Hospice

  • Jessica Griffith | DeKalb Chamber Partnership

  • Brianne Haiflich | 3Rivers Federal Credit Union

  • Zach Heimach | Eckhart Public Library

  • Betsy Ley | Auburn Massage Center

  • Kevin McIntire | Health Markets Insurance Agency

  • Amy Neal | DeKalb Central Schools

  • Jeremiah Otis | Fortify Life

  • Lucas Straw | Team Quality Services

  • Holly Wright | Garrett-Keyser-Butler Community Schools

A celebration honoring the work of this year’s class and welcoming the class of 2022-23 was had on May 25th at Bridgwater Golf Club allowing participants to celebrate and connect with each other, as well as the DeKalb LEADS Steering Committee. The next class has been selected and will begin in August of 2022.

For more information, visit or @dekalbleads on social media.

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