The Virginia Institute of Marine Science opened its doors last week for an esteemed group of Virginia’s leaders during one of their stops in the LEAD VIRGINIA 2013 Alumni Conference.
A non-profit and non-partisan organization with a goal of educating proven Virginia leaders about regional differences, opportunities, and challenges in the Commonwealth, LEAD VIRGINIA holds an alumni conference each year in a selected area of the state to introduce alumni and guests to a new region with its own unique assets and challenges.
“This year’s conference was focused on the environmental landscape of Virginia’s Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula, and Chesapeake Regions,” says LEAD VIRGINIA’s President and CEO Susan Horne. “The Conference program focused on key themes of environmental and economic sustainability, the importance of the area’s ties to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, and how the region is creating a culture of philanthropy to meet the social needs of the communities.”
During their visit, conference participants toured the VIMS campus and were introduced to research scientists who work to preserve Chesapeake Bay and waterways across the globe. Included in the tour were visits to the environmental chemistry and zooplankton ecology laboratories, as well as the VIMS Teaching Marsh.
Following the tour, VIMS Commercial Shellfish Aquaculture Extension Specialist Karen Hudson introduced the group to the growing importance of oyster aquaculture to the Commonwealth. Hudson was later joined by industry speakers from Omega Protein, Inc.—who discussed issues related to the harvest of menhaden and operation of their fish-processing plant in Reedville.
“Our alumni were very impressed with the work that is being done at VIMS,” says Horne. “We all learned a great deal about the health of our waterways and their contributions to the overall economy.”
“Modeled on the theory of social capital, LEAD VIRGINIA offers an annual class program of seven regional sessions between April and November where participants learn about each unique region as well as how these regions contribute to the greater Commonwealth,” says the Honorable Whitt Clement, Board Chair of LEAD VIRGINIA. “After completing the program, alumni are equipped to step into increasingly responsible roles within their communities and on regional and statewide boards and commissions as they bring their newly formed 360-degree statewide leadership perspective.”
LEAD VIRGINIA class participants and alumni represent a wide spectrum of leaders throughout the Commonwealth, with more than half of each class coming from the private sector, and the remainder evenly distributed among government, nonprofit, and educational institutions.
Horne says the annual Alumni Conference is an opportunity for LEAD VIRGINIA alumni to reconnect across class years and geographic regions. “During the conference, alumni meet with local leaders to gain informed perspectives on the strengths and challenges of the local region and a better understanding of the interdependence among Virginia’s regions,” she says.
About LEAD VIRGINIA
LEAD VIRGINIA was incorporated as a charitable and education organization in March 2005 and is patterned after similar models of statewide leadership programs across the nation. Led by a board of directors composed of business, education, government, non-profit, and community leaders from across Virginia, LEAD VIRGINIA uses a proven model for developing a statewide network of leaders by engaging academic, business, civic, and government advisors to educate class members on the wide range of key issues in the Commonwealth.