Leadership Cleveland County

The Chamber started Leadership Cleveland County in 1989. Designed to develop informed, involved and concerned leaders within the community, Leadership Cleveland County gives participants the opportunity to study Cleveland County businesses and communities – its history, government, economy, human services and culture –and recognize challenges, opportunities and resources.

The program gives both experienced and developing leaders a broader view of civic leadership responsibilities and opportunities through direct contact with a wide spectrum of institutions and people who shape the community where we live and work.  After graduation, the Leadership Cleveland County Alumni association contacts will help provide future connections in the community.

Applications Now Being Accepted!!

Join the 2020-2021 Class!

Leadership Cleveland County Applications due by November 27th.

If you do not receive email confirmation from President Bill Watson,  within 48 hours after submitting your application please contact him at [email protected].

This Program Offers:

Program Requirements:

  • Mandatory attendance for the retreat in January, all subsequent program days, and graduation. A typical program day begins at 8:00 am and concludes at 5:00 pm the first Wednesday of each month. It is expected that all class participants attend all class related activities.
  • In addition to monthly sessions, class members are also required to attend three public body meetings (city council, county commission, school board) during the course of the year and participate in a class project.

Program Qualifications:

  • A sincere concern about the future of our state and commitment to help shape its future.
  • Commitment through past and present community involvement.
  • A demonstrated capacity for leadership within the individual’s own organization.
  • A willingness to commit the energy necessary to complete the program.

Selection Process:
Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee and class members will be selected on the basis of employment/professional experience, community involvement, geographic representation, job sector and diversity. All applications must be submitted by November 27th. Applicants will be notified before December 4th as to whether or not they have been selected.

Participants: Employees from public, private and non-profit organizations anxious to grow and become more effective.

Tuition: $775 for Chamber Members; $995 for non-members

Sessions: The program requires attendance one day per month starting in January and ending in November. Each meeting is held at a location appropriate to the topic of the session, so that participants gain a broader view of the community. Public, private, non-profit and educational organizations act as hosts for each program. Typical of the year-long session topics are the following:

  • JANUARY 6, 2021: Orientation and Team Building – Gardner Webb University
  • JANUARY 13, 2021: Health & Wellness Session
  • FEBRUARY 3, 2021: Kings Mountain Session
  • MARCH 3, 2021: Shelby Session
  • APRIL 7, 2021: Arts, Culture & History Session
  • MAY 5, 2021: Economic Development/Industry Session
  • JUNE 2, 2021: Education Session
  • AUGUST 4, 2021: Non-Profit/Human Services Session
  • SEPTEMBER 1, 2021: Government/Community Trusteeship Session
  • OCTOBER 6, 2021: Public Services/Safety Session
  • NOVEMBER 3, 2021: Upper Cleveland Session
  • NOVEMBER 2021: Graduation & Holiday Party

Participants are expected to attend all sessions. Only two absences will be permitted for emergency purposes. If candidates are unable to commit to the program schedule, it is not in their best interest to apply at this time. Upon completion of the first year, each participant will be assigned to a planning committee for one of the sessions of the following Leadership Program year. A participant is expected to attend all planning committee meetings with their respective committees, as well as attend the session they assisted in planning.

Format: Each session is planned by a sub-committee of Alumni. The sessions provide participants with a sense of issues relevant to the day’s theme. Participants are introduced to the key leaders in each discipline, conducted through a series of discussions, lectures, group discussions and tours. Leadership skills are challenged in a variety of simulation exercises.


Matt Bolinsky, Director, Cardiopulmonary Services, Atrium Health-Cleveland
“Leadership Cleveland County allows each participant the unique opportunity to increase their knowledge of the great people and organizations of our fair county. I will forever be grateful for the experiences, knowledge gained and connections made with the amazing hard-working people all across Cleveland County.”

Juan Cherry, Senior Pastor, New Creation Christian Center:
Eye Opening Experience is the term that comes to mind when I think of Leadership Cleveland County. I’ve lived in Cleveland all of my adult life and did not realize all Cleveland County has to offer. Leadership Cleveland County has opened my eyes to the greatness of our County, allowed me to build lasting relationships and provided opportunities for me to both serve and grow as a leader. ”

Janet Hart, Public Information Officer, Cleveland County
“Leadership Cleveland County provided an excellent forum to meet leaders and make new connections from small businesses, major industries, city and county governments, and nonprofit organizations.”

Dr. Jason Hurst, President, Cleveland Community College:
“Leadership Cleveland County was an incredible experience for me.  Being new to Cleveland County, it gave me an opportunity to explore the county and meet key leaders.  This program provides business leaders with a way to expand their leadership capabilities and help develop their workforce skills.  Leadership Cleveland County is an awesome resource that all leaders can benefit from”

Heidi Lankford, Warehouse Manager, Clearwater Paper:
“I have spent the last eleven months learning, understanding and networking my way through Cleveland County. Leadership Cleveland County presented a wealth of compassionate, helpful, empathetic, eager leaders and organizations with an array of informative topics and challenges facing this county. Whether you are new to Cleveland County or a lifelong resident, participating in Leadership Cleveland County presents an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the county and who you are as a leader.”

Further Information: Contact The Chamber at [email protected] or via phone at (704) 487-8521.