Guest Editor – Jacina Haston (LT 33)

In September of 2007, I moved to Tallahassee. As a new mother, I was not thrilled about this new change. My roots run deep in the heart of Orlando and I was not sure how I was going to adjust. I had a passion for doing public service work, so I took a job with Legal Services of North Florida, Inc. and figured I would meet people along the way that would ease the brunt of this transition. I despised my husband daily for making the decision to move our family to Leon County; what was he thinking?

It was not long after I moved here that I learned of this secret society known as Leadership Tallahassee. I had to figure out what all of the hype was and what it took to be a part of this group. I stalked the Chamber of Commerce website and began to notice a few faces from around town being featured. The Leader Board sparked my interest to join a board and become civically engaged. Last on my list was to find the opportunity to introduce myself to Barbara Boone. It was not long after joining the Board of Big Bend Cares that I met Barbara Boone at our Christmas Party. Barbara advised me of the process and I made it my mission to do the rest. I spoke to others that endured the LT process, attended the LT Preview, threw caution to the wind and submitted my application for Leadership Tallahassee Class 33. Although I believe I am a well-rounded individual, I was skeptical if I would be accepted. To my dismay, I made the cut! I truly had no idea what to expect and everyone I knew who had been through the process was very tight lipped on the journey I was about to embark on. As a result, my anxiety level grew.

It did not take long for me to lose the fear and immerse myself into the LT process. The diversity of Class 33 was more than I could imagine. At orientation, I learned things about my fellow class members that I am sure they would not want me to share, but I was intrigued. Our first retreat proved to be quite the experience. I bonded with Team Yellow and learned a lot about myself during the Privilege Walk. I will never forget the characters and personalities that emerged during this retreat. Throughout the journey I learned to face my fears during the Leadership Styles Day as I took on a ropes course at FSU Campus Recreation. I had my first encounter with a firearm and conquered amazing heights during Public Safety Day. I witnessed surgery up close and personal at Red Hills Surgical Center and grew to appreciate the amazing health system we have here in Tallahassee on Health Day. I learned firsthand what is in store for the future of Tallahassee during Business and Economic Development Day.

I have a new found respect for Leon County after completing this year with LT 33. My experiences with the program have changed me for the better. As they say knowledge is power and LT 33 has given me enough to go forth and do good. Who knew it would take me setting an acre of land on fire at Tall Timbers, exploring the resources at Innovation Park, cultivating my inner artist at The Sharing Tree, and exploring my past at the Florida A&M University Meek-Eaton Black Archives to finally remove the cloak of my Orange County roots and embrace the Big Bend. Tallahassee is a beautiful city and LT 33 was a wonderful opportunity that helped me explore the many hidden gems in the place I now call home. This year has been invaluable and I have many people to thank for the journey. Thank you Sha’Ron James (LT 21) for giving your time to help me understand the benefits of such an amazing program. Special thanks to my colleagues Arnell Bryant-Willis (LT 27), Francine Walker (LT 15), and Marcy Jackson (LT 17) for pulling together to write a phenomenal recommendation letter on my behalf. To my LT 33 class members, the most social class ever, I am grateful to have shared the journey with you all. To Barbara Boone and Denise Wilson (LT 29) thank you for your commitment to evolving me into a new being.