DOBSON — A recent Surry Community College staffer hopes to build upon his interest in infrastructure and connections through participation in Leadership North Carolina.
Seeing the interconnected nature of education and workforce development seemed to come naturally for Vice President of Student Services Randy Ledford, who has been with SCC for eight months.
Ledford said, to his knowledge, he is the first Surry County person chosen to participate in the workshops. The mission of the Leadership North Carolina program is to inform, develop and engage committed leaders by broadening their understanding of and involvement in issues and opportunities facing the state as part of its 100 County Initiative.
The workshops take place several days a week for more than a year at different locations in the state. Ledford said he is looking forward to being involved in a process to learn the “big picture” from the perspectives of the different areas of the state.
“Leaders in a variety of subjects are being brought in to work with us,” Ledford said. “Everyone I’ve talked with says it’s (the workshops) been an eye-opening experience on how the state operates. I’m really excited about this.”
He will be a member of the 21st class of Leadership North Carolina. He had completed the exhaustive application process a year ago but his mother, the late Lucy Ledford, had been diagnosed with cancer shortly after he received word. His connections to Surry Community College began when he was helping to write a grant for community colleges which include the school.
Ledford described the application process as “exhaustive” and said in addition to being highly competitive it was also reflective asking applicants to explain their rationale of why they wanted to be a part of the program and how their skills would be important to their communities. He said it took him a week to complete the application.
“I was working with workforce development and initiatives to build the skill sets of workers to drive economic development,” said Ledford. He added that many company executives he had talked with always asked about what an area’s workforce was like which reinforced his belief in the vital link between education and economic development.
“I also saw the impact to communities once a company was brought in,” Ledford said. “Does a community have the infrastructure for growth or business. I’m really interested in learning about other facets as well such as health and human services. Every company wants to know about the quality of life. It (the workshops) will give me some background from a state level.”
Ledford said going into this process he feels the state has the infrastructure and that business is coming back, just not in the same form it left.
“I think the Triad area is going to be competitive in getting companies to come into the area. You are starting to see that happen already as we are coming out of this recession,” Ledford said. “We are seeing this in the community colleges a lot. There is a positive impact to the larger areas and the smaller communities as well. It’s a ripple effect. I’m hoping to get the larger picture. You always hear talk about how we need more jobs. I want to find out how we’re going to do that.”
He admitted the process of change in every area to lifelong learners willing to take a chance will be difficult. Ledford said the players at this table are asking communities to focus on transformation. He feels one component of this is a “seamless” connection between educational entities involved as a pipeline from kindergarten to workplace.
Ledford likened the role he would like to play in the future as a “servant leader” thinking globally but acting locally.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Ledford said. “Hopefully I can do some good while I’m here.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-719-1952.