Class of 2018 Wrap-Up

Ricky Butler ’15 

A few years ago around this time, I was feeling a little depressed because my year as a member of the Class of 2015 had come to an end. It’s hard to quit “cold turkey.” You go for months being overwhelmed by unique insights and new perspectives on a community you thought you knew. Despite ample opportunity to mingle with your classmates throughout the program, you still find yourself with new relationships at the end of the day each month. As Pete Cetera once famously said, that’s “a hard habit to break.” I quickly learned, however, that my post-program depression was for naught. Receiving my plaque was just the beginning.

On Saturday, June 2 the Class of 2018 returned to the place where it all began – the Safety Harbor Resort & Spa – to celebrate the end of the first chapter of their Leadership Pinellas journey and to start drafting the next one. Dozens of people including past presidents, board members, and guests looked on as we welcomed 47 new passionate members of our community to “the other side.”

“Our Realtor Renee” Mott and Matt Collingsworth explained what the last nine months have meant to them personally and professionally. We welcomed our newest board members, including class director Allie Chandler, and bid farewell to those that have served with commitment and prose. Outgoing President Georgie Menke passed the gavel to incoming President Cyndee Haydon who reminded us to never be afraid to join “the man in the arena.” All in all the night of June 2 was one of change. A fresh start for an organization looking forward to the 2018-2019 program year and a revelation of opportunity for some of Pinellas County’s brightest community leaders.

I will leave you with a personal note that I shared with the Class of 2018: the only thing more rewarding than participating as a member of the Class of 2015 was having the opportunity to observe them grow as members of this year’s class. It has been a privilege to serve as the program chair for the Class of 2018 and I’m grateful to Georgie for giving me the opportunity – even if she did “win me in a bet.”