Business Development, Flint, MI, Leadership Now logo - Flint & Genesee(FLINT, Mich., July 29, 2015) – Twelve high-potential Flint and Genesee professionals have been accepted into the inaugural class of Leadership NOW, an intensive, year-long leadership development program. The participants, who work and/or live in Genesee County, will attend their first group session July 30-31 at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club in Grand Blanc.

As part of Leadership NOW – a collaborative partnership of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Genesee County – the 12 participants will take part in six full-day sessions that cover topics such as building and managing a diverse team; creating and implementing a vision; developing followership; following through; and achieving results.

However, according to George Wilkinson, Group Vice President, Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, the leadership program goes far beyond lessons in theory.

“The participants are expected to put what they learn into practice,” Wilkinson said. “They have been tasked with developing and initiating a sustainable, collaborative project that will strengthen the community. And we’re glad to be in the position to help them achieve their goals.”

Participants have already started brainstorming ideas for their projects, which they can work on individually or in teams. After the educational group sessions conclude in November, the program will host a series of half-day project planning sessions where participants better formulate their ideas.

Throughout the course, participants will receive about 10 hours of one-on-one executive coaching. To prepare for this aspect of the program, each participant has undergone an in-depth leadership assessment to identify his or her individual strengths and opportunities for personal and professional development.

“The coaching component is an especially unique aspect of the Leadership NOW program,” says Jenni Dones, Program Manager, BEST Project at United Way of Genesee County. “We have four highly esteemed coaches who will challenge the participants to enhance their leadership, management, relationship-building and collaboration skills. By the time the program concludes in June, they will be well prepared to take advantage of this region’s opportunities.”

As announced in April, Leadership NOW is the result of a merger between the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Alliance, the United Way of Genesee County’s BEST Nonprofit Leadership Institute (BNLI) and Resource Genesee’s Leadership Genesee.

Participants in the inaugural class include:

  • Merinda Brisbane (Durand), Private Bank Relationship Associate, FirstMerit Bank in Flint
  • Raymond Curtin (Davison), President, CDC Corporation
  • Patrick Haley (Flushing), Treasurer, Mt. Morris Township
  • Alexandria Harris (Burton), Assistant Director of Events and Community Engagement, Crim Fitness Foundation
  • Karena Hamlet (Flint), Business Development Manager, Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce
  • Wendy Johnson (Flint), Principal, WSJ Consulting
  • Pharlon Randle (Flint), Manager/Owner, Folla Me LLC/Bangtown Mobile Studio, and Executive Director, Bangtown – Studio On The GO
  • Christy Rivette (Grand Blanc), Program Coordinator II, National Kidney Foundation of Michigan
  • Richard Russell Jr. (Davison), Special Projects Coordinator, University of Michigan-Flint
  • Jenna Stephens (Davison), Field and Fundraising Coordinator, StudentsFirst
  • Sounya Walker (Flint), Director, Mott Community College’s Gateway to College Program & Adult Education
  • Jennifer Walters (Flint),Operations Director, Comfort Keepers

For more information about the program, contact Jenni Dones at or 810-762-5822, or Michelle Hill at or 810-600-1423.