The winners of the annual Leadership DeKalb Alumni Association awards were honored Thursday night during the Chamber of Commerce Membership Banquet at the County Complex.
Blake Cantrell received the Community Leader of the Year Award and the Legacy Award went to Jackie Smith. The awards were presented by Leadership DeKalb representatives Jen Sherwood and Beth and Darrell Gill.
The Community Leader of the Year is awarded to the individual who most emulates the definition of community trustee and servant-leader in his or her recent service to DeKalb County. Nominees are considered who have made a significant and positive impact on our county specifically in 2017 and in a capacity beyond their professional role. The 2017 Community Leader of the Year is Blake Cantrell. Blake works in IT professionally, but while attending the DeKalb County Citizen Fire Academy in the fall of 2014, he saw the opportunity to give back. He became a volunteer fireman in 2015. His commitment didn’t stop there, however. Since January 2016, he has served as the DeKalb volunteer fire department communications officer. Blake was recognized for his many volunteer hours to the county fire department as the recipient of the 2017 “Git-R-Done” Award. He is the current President of DeKalb Emergency Services Association, President of 2017-18 Project Graduation Committee, and has served as Vice-President of the DCHS Quarterback Club for 9 years. Blake also gives freely his IT and technical services to many community groups throughout DeKalb County, such as Help, Haven of Hope, and Lighthouse Christian Camp, and various churches. Darrell and Beth Gill presented the award to Blake and thanked him for his leadership and service to DeKalb County.
The Legacy Leader Award is awarded to someone who most emulates the definition of community trustee and servant-leader in his or her continued service to DeKalb County. The winner has made a significant and positive impact on our county over a considerable period of time and in multiple and lasting ways. This year’s award was presented to Jackie Smith. Jen Sherwood awarded Jackie this year’s Legacy Leader Award, with the support and backing of so many in DeKalb County who have been influenced by her as a teacher, a friend and State Farm agent, and through the many community boards and organizations she has served.
Leadership DeKalb also announced that Darrell and Beth Gill will be taking over as directors of the Leadership DeKalb program. The monthly leadership training series was previously under the direction of Jen Sherwood from 1997-2016. “I am thrilled to announce the continuation of the LD program, and feel the Gills are amazing leaders in our community, and have the qualifications and passion for leadership development to guide the program for years to come. It is with great pleasure that I pass the LD baton off to such proven servant leaders.” Anyone who would like to learn more about the community, meet existing business and government leaders, and explore increased leadership opportunities are encouraged to consider participating in Leadership DeKalb. For more information, call the chamber office at 615-597-4163.