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Recreation, Tourism and Hospitality Focus of SML Regional Chamber Leadership Academy Session

Recreation, tourism and hospitality were the topics covered in the May Leadership Academy class presented by the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce (SMLRCC).

The sessions took place May 4 at Drifters restaurant and aboard the Virginia Dare. Four of last year’s students presented their projects on community awareness and needs assessment, according to Cheryl Ward, office administrator for the Chamber.

“It was a great afternoon filled with beautiful scenery, delicious food and a wealth of knowledge,” said Ward. “For several of the students, it was their first time on the water so it was a fabulous way to introduce them to Smith Mountain Lake.”

Julia Darling of Savvy Promos presented her project on A Simple Gesture, a pantry pickup program that makes donating easy and increases inventory at Lake Christian Ministries.

Evan Deyerle of American National Bank presented information on safe and secure medication disposal that works with local take back programs in our area.

Nicole Johnson, Director of Tourism for Bedford County, shared how Bedford partners with the SMLRCC to promote the lake via ad campaigns and events throughout the year to draw tourists to the region.

Beth Simms, Director of Economic Development for Franklin County, offered a presentation on asset mapping, which is the process of identifying strengths and assets, such as tangible assets, people, recurring events, history and traditions, and public service. Simms had the class break up into groups according to where they lived and then identify the strengths and assets of their area.

The Leadership Academy is a 12-month program designed to develop a diversified corps of informed, committed and qualified individuals who will assume leadership roles for Bedford, Franklin and Pittsylvania county organizations.

The SMLRCC Leadership Academy Class of 2022 includes Richard Anglin, Timber Loving Care Tree Service; Joycelyn Bailey, Mariners Landing; Chasity Barbour, Town of Vinton; Kees Craye, Lifestyle & Lake Real Estate Group; Alyssa Eads, Mariners Landing; Heather Falls, American National Insurance; Megan Huston, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office; Baylie Kelley, Casago SML; Heather Kesterson, CSA Franklin County; James Little, American National Bank; Tracy McCown, Carilion Clinic; Miranda Mitchell, Drifter’s; Daniel Pinard, Town of Rocky Mount; Brandy Rosser, Franklin County; Eric Schmidt, Franklin County; Justin Sigmon, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office; Rachel Wilbourne, Savvy Promos, Inc.; and Jeff Wood, LeisureMedia360.

For additional information, log onto or contact Cheryl Ward at 540-721-1203 or [email protected].

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