Lead • Engage • Activate • Develop • Serve

With a goal to cultivate leaders that are well-informed, well-rounded, and engaged through training, networking, and real-world experience, DeKalb LEADS, is the premier leadership opportunity driving positive change and civic engagement in DeKalb County. This 9 month program equips participants to Lead, Engage, Activate, Develop, and Serve our community. The program exposes emerging and existing community leaders to the issues that face our region while challenging and engaging participants to strengthen the community through service and leadership. With the community as their classroom, participants develop long-lasting relationships with other leaders, discover the inner workings of our community and challenges facing our community, and define their individual role and responsibility as a leader within our community.


Application + Selection Process

Each potential participant must submit a completed application, a brief video answering the given prompts, 2 letters of recommendation and a completed employer agreement. To be considered, completed applications must be received by the DeKalb Chamber Partnership by Friday, April 22, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. Applicants will be notified of the status of their acceptance by May 20, 2022. If accepted, tuition will be due prior to the first class session. 

DeKalb LEADS strives to be accessible to all regardless of financial resources. For those who require it, you will find scholarship information at the end of the application. Each application is reviewed by the Steering Committee which looks at individual qualifications and a broad spectrum of experience. The Steering Committee strives to select a diverse representation of all segments of our community.


Selection for DeKalb LEADS is based on the following criteria:

Involvement in professional and/or managerial positions • Demonstrated ability and desire to assume greater community leadership responsibility •  Clear willingness to make a commitment to the community in subsequent years •  Proof of the full support of the organization or business they represent. • Live and/or work in DeKalb County


2021/2022 LEADS Cohort at the retreat in fall of 2021

Steering Committee

Brian Best
Ambassador Enterprises

April Dobson
Trin (LEADS Alumni)

Shannon Carpenter
DeKalb Chamber Partnership

Anton King
DeKalb County Economic Development Partnership

Kendra Klink
James Foundation

Sarah Payne
DeKalb LEADS Facilitator

Chris Straw
Team Quality Services

Tonya Weaver
Garrett-Keyser-Butler Community School District

Tanya Young
Community Foundation DeKalb  County

LEADS Alumni

Tyler Cleverly
Jake Clifford*
April Dobson
Rudi Eidam
Larry Getts
Melissa Irk
Brandon Park
Nora Schwartz

*In Memoriam 

2021/2022 Cohort

Kathleen Alter
Betsy Ley
Mary Diehl
Leslie Friedel
Jessica Griffith
Brianne Haiflich
Rachel Haynes
Zach Heimach
Kevin McIntire
Amy Neal
Jeremiah Otis
Lucas Straw
Crystal Church-Stavitzke
Holly Wright