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Leadership Bedford: 25 years, still strong


Leadership Bedford began over 20 years ago and was organized by the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce. Due to pandemic regulations, there are only 15 available adult class openings this year, according to Gina Warren, who serves on the board for Leadership Bedford.  

Leadership Bedford is taking applications until Oct. 22 to fill the remaining five spots for their adult classes. The organization is open to both local businesses as well as anyone who wants to be a part of the classes. Entry fee for adult classes is $500 and availability is on a first come first serve basis, according to Warren.  

There are also youth classes for high school seniors this year with invitations sent directly through the school system. All 21 positions for the youth classes have been filled.  


The leadership year kicks off with a retreat on Nov. 6 at Webb School. There are seven sched through April; graduation is set for April 26. According to Warren, adults and students participate in the same agenda, while the retreat will feature indoor and outdoor activities focusing on leadership and communication skills.  

“The retreat really just kicks off the year to help the class get to know one another too,” said Warren.  

Each month then focuses on a specific area of “community leadership.”  

The first class in November will focus on local government, tourism, and Bedford Couty history. One day will also focus on local industry and entrepreneurial businesses and how they work with industrial development to bring in new businesses to the county. Education, medical and social services, public safety, and local military are other topics that are covered in the classes.  

“The days are filled with visits to local businesses and industry, medical/ social service organizations, learning about local emergency services and about local government and history. The days have several people that represent the focus day who talk to the group and lead tours,” said Warren.  

Towards the spring, the Leadership Bedford classes will take a trip to Nashville for a tour of the Capitol and to meet with state representatives to learn about local government. Warren said they are hoping they can take a day in the spring to focus on local agriculture.  

Warren emphasized that these plans are subject to change due to COVID19.  

“The Leadership Bedford board members were disappointed that the program could not be held in 2020 due to COVID-19. I am proud to serve with so many dedicated professionals, and we are excited to start the 2021/2022 Leadership Bedford program in November. As a Chamber of Commerce program, we are proud to again be able to share with participants so many great things Shelbyville and Bedford County have to offer as we visit and learn from many of our community business and government leaders. We can’t wait to get started!” said Daniel Watson, Leadership Bedford’s board president.  

Giving back  

But Leadership Bedford also presents a time to give back to the community through their local projects.  

The youth and adults typically have separate projects with the adults having a little more independence, Warren said, which involves fundraising.  

More than $15,000 were raised by the 2019 class.  

“Our class, in particular, raised money for the local animal shelter, the one on Industrial Boulevard. So, it can be anything from purchasing equipment that a nonprofit business can use to...work at a park,” said Warren. The animal shelter was given almost $11,000. One class built an outdoor picnic pavilion at the senior citizen center.  

What’s different this year?  

This year’s program will also include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment.  

“A foundational strength of every leader is self-awareness, so understanding how your individual preferences are influence the culture in which everyone operates is a key to good leadership,” Warren said.  

For those interested in applying for the adult Leadership Bedford class, the deadline is Oct. 22, 2021.  

Applications are available by visiting the local Chamber of Commerce website, www. shelbyvilletn.com/chamber/leadership-bedford, or request an application by emailing leadershipbedfordcountytn@gmail.com. 


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