An electrician, a student, a nurse, a publisher and a banker found they had something in common Tuesday as the 2010-11 Leadership Hermiston Class launched its year with team-building exercises.

Sponsored by the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Hermiston brings together people from different businesses and organizations one day a month to learn more about the community and its elements. Beginning in September and ending in June, the 2010-11 class marks the 14th year for the program in Hermiston.

“The purpose for leadership programs nationwide is to increase the number of volunteer leaders and connect willing volunteers with opportunities. People are very concerned and want to be a part of helping other people and helping the community,” facilitator Brenda Turner said Thursday. “Leadership Hermiston offers people a chance to get to know their community in a way that they wouldn’t on their own. It’s a great opportunity for people who are new to the community, but it’s also for those who were born here to get to know it better.”

Fourteen years ago, Leadership Hermiston grew out of discussions from community members. After two years of organization, talking with local residents and other communities with leadership programs, the founders outlined what they would like to see developed in Hermiston and put together a program that focused on important business and community aspects of this area. Turner was brought in to facilitate the program during the first session, and this year, Leadership Hermiston Class 14 will study agriculture, economic development, human needs and services, the justice system, media relations, education, state government, Hermiston history, medical and wellness, local government and volunteer opportunities.

Tuesday the class met for team-building exercises at the Hermiston Conference Center and McKenzie Park.

“The purpose for team building is to introduce the class to each other and for them to learn a lot of information about each other so they can make connections,” Turner said.

The 2010-11 class includes: Michael Berk, Greenwood Resources; Tom Brown, East Oregonian; Jennifer Colton, Hermiston Herald; Brenda Davis, Union Pacific Railroad; Jackie Dunlap, Union Pacific Railroad; Darla Esterbloom, Club 24; Maria Gonzalez, Hermiston High School student; Molly Hansen, Good Shepherd Health Care System; Brooke Harshfield, Hermiston Chamber of Commerce; Marta Harvill, Domestic Violence Services; Carol Johnson, Blue Mountain Community College; Jacelyn Keys, Eastern Oregon University; Jared Lathrop, Banner Bank; Mike Martin, Gordon’s Electric Inc; Sunshine Mason, U. S. Bank; Debbie Radie, Boardman Foods Inc; David Smith, O-So-Kleen; Wade Smith, Hermiston School District; Mike Snyder, Umatilla Morrow County Head Start; and Rita Van Schoiack, Blue Mountain Investment Management LLC.

Although Leadership Hermiston typically includes 17 or 18 people, Class 14 will include 20 participants because of a strong interest by potential class members.

“This is such a wonderful community, and many people want to be involved,” Turner said. “At the end of the program, that’s something that every participate says: This is a wonderful community, and Leadership Hermiston is a great way to get to know the community.”


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