Among the 39 individuals selected for the Leadership St. Pete® Class of 2022, 11 are people of color who boast noteworthy and meaningful experiences.
BY ELIZABETH SIPLIN AND KELLY CUNHA POKORNY, Contributors
ST. PETERSBURG — As one of the oldest leadership programs in America and a division of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, Leadership St. Pete® (LSP) seeks to identify, recruit, and develop leaders who represent the diversity of our local community.
Through a dynamic, intensive, interactive, six-month experience, LSP is customized to provide a curriculum that enhances community acumen to develop the future leaders who will assume roles in the Chamber and other community organizations.
The selection process is intentionally designed to reflect the diversity that makes St. Petersburg shine bright. Among the 39 individuals selected for the LSP Class of 2022, 11 are people of color who boast noteworthy and meaningful experiences:
- Antonio Brown of Central Station Barber Shop and Grooming
- Amber Calhoun of Caring and Community Counseling, LLC,
- Chaquita Clark of Duke Energy,
- Franchon Dials of Pinellas County Schools,
- Kyandra Darling of Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg
- Christopher Hackney of First Home Bank
- Christopher Lampley of The City of St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation
- Alicia Tennell of Franklin Templeton
- Brian Peret of Webtalk
- Elizabeth Siplin of Empact Solutions
- Monica DeChaine of Strength + Shanti LLC
- Jose A. Gomez of Harvard Jolly Architecture
- Eric Vaughn of Community Tampa Bay
All 11 have reflected on their experience with the class’s legacy project, arguably one of the program’s most important elements.
Dubbed “Waves of Inspiration,” this year’s class project will result in capital improvements to the Clam Bayou Marine Education Center located in south St. Petersburg. The center is a community outreach and educational facility for programs that inspire youth to become active environmental and ocean stewards. Students are encouraged to learn more about careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) — an especially critical mission for underserved communities that traditionally lack access to such programming.
“Being a part of the LSP 2022 project has been an extremely rewarding experience. Every child deserves a village of advocates and a safe and comfortable learning environment that inspires them. It is my hope that the enhancements that we are making at Clam Bayou will inspire future generations for years to come,” Kyandra Darling, Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg.
Eric Vaughan of Community Tampa Bay shared, “Being able to work on a project in my own community that can benefit so many young people in the STEM field is extremely powerful. Our Leadership St. Pete Class of 2022 is creating a legacy of inspiring future scientists, and I could not be more proud.”
Amber Calhoun of Caring Community Counseling added, “Inclusion from a young age is critical in STEM fields, especially for black and brown youth. Inclusion is a birthright. Regardless of color, the participants of this program have the right to sit at the table, speak, and be heard. The enhancements that our class is making at The Clam Bayou Marine Education Center will create an environment where young aspiring scientists and marine biologists can boldly explore this sense of inclusion and belonging with confidence. Don’t allow anyone to convince you that you don’t belong here.”
Leadership St. Pete® provided these leaders and their classmates memories and experiences of a lifetime. The LSP Class of 2022 has lots to be proud of.
To learn more about Leadership St. Pete®, please visit stpete.com/lsp. Applications become available online at the end of the summer for the following year.