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Guest Editor – Hella Spellman (LT 26)

Not long after moving to Tallahassee a good friend of mine shared with my husband and me the introduction she was preparing for her Leadership Tallahassee kickoff retreat. I had several friends (all extroverts) who had gone through Leadership Tallahassee and while it sounded interesting, it didn’t seem like something for me. When my friend shared the “silly” introduction she was preparing, this introvert decided this really isn’t for me!

Four years later my husband Michael Spellman (LT 20) (also an extrovert) became a member of LT Class 20. His excitement and enthusiasm for the program was parallel to none that I had seen in a long time. In addition to learning about the community, Michael was certainly enjoying the many social events and new friends and connections he was making. Still, I was not convinced the program was for me, although I recognized its value for extroverts who enjoyed socializing and had jobs in which networking was important.

However, being an eyewitness to the diverse group of people in his class – with very different perspectives, skill sets, and personality styles – who collaboratively developed the Youth Leadership Tallahassee Program began to change my perceptions. This was a group of people committed to the betterment of our community, who recognized and set aside their personal differences for the common good. Additionally, as the Program Supervisor for Tallahassee Senior Services, this sparked inside me the idea of a leadership program for retirees. When I finally had the opportunity to work on developing this program, I thought I should apply for LT to learn more about how a community leadership program is run. What I got was a whole lot more!

Thanks to my experience in LT and the support of Barbara Boone and LT graduates who helped, I was able to develop the senior leadership program known as Tallahassee Active Lifelong Leaders (T.A.L.L.), which has been a resounding success as it begins its 9th year.
Note: here is my shameless plug: Applications for the next class are available by emailing me: hella.spellman@talgov.com and are due December 19th. We also can use any LT Grads interested in helping with program days! I have a great group this year, but I still need someone for Business and Economic Development and Human Services Day. Email me if you can assist!

What I did not expect was that, like my husband 6 years prior, I would come home from Class 26 program days full of enthusiasm and excitement. Yes, the things we learned about the community were amazing. Yes, the experiences we participated in were exciting. But the most incredible takeaway was sharing these experiences with my own diverse group of classmates (LT 26 – Best Looking Class Ever!). As a true introvert, this far exceeded my comfort zone – for which I will be forever grateful. I will always cherish the experience, the memories, and the wonderful friends I made in LT but the greatest lesson learned was to always challenge myself, step out of my comfort zone and participate actively rather than passively.

I grew up in a military family with no real “roots.” Home was where my family was, not a community.
I had been in Tallahassee 15 years when I participated in LT. As much as I had grown to love Tallahassee in that time, I had been a passive participant. Participating in LT and stepping out of my comfort zone is what finally actually connected me to this wonderful community – So, while some of the people and places I learned about in LT may or may not be anymore, for me Leadership Tallahassee has been about becoming a part of the “family” that makes this amazing community home. Yes, writing this is out of my comfort zone but when I was asked, without hesitation I said yes!

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