A new appreciation and fresh perspective of Tallahassee | Opinion

From the Tallahassee Democrat

As a fifth-generation Tallahasseean, the quality and diversity of this amazing community has been instilled in me since birth. Only through my recent experience as a member of Leadership Tallahassee Class 38, have I truly come to appreciate what this community means to me.

Leadership Tallahassee, a program of the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, is now accepting applications for Class 40. Such a prestigious history of multiple decades speaks to the impact of this program.

The value to an individual is not only the information and awareness gained learning about our community but what that individual will do with this newfound knowledge. There is an unspoken expectation that you will seek out ways you can participate in making Tallahassee better.

Each year, Leadership Tallahassee selects its class participants from a competitive pool of applicants who have the desire to improve our community. Anyone living or working in the Big Bend Region, 21+, is eligible to apply. Each class is a mélange of people from numerous industries, age groups and backgrounds, all of whom live and work here in Tallahassee.

My Leadership Tallahassee quest began five years ago, with my desire to be more involved in our community. As I have progressed in my career as an accountant, I have been blessed to give back to the city that has given so much to me.

To be honest, I almost didn’t apply for Class 38. I applied twice before and was not selected. A little dejected, I contemplated whether I thought myself worthy of such an experience. With the assistance of a few past graduates and a rejuvenated optimism, I prepared my application.

LT Class 38 is now considered my family. We began our program year during the pandemic, which meant several of our early program days were spent on Zoom. There were several of us that voiced our concerns about how a virtual program would impact our experience. This was the catalyst for when I realized how many like-minded individuals could come together to cause change for the better.

As the program year continued, we were exposed to many new experiences and opportunities. My appreciation for everything Tallahassee grew with each interaction alongside my classmates.

By the end of the program year, I was filled with more knowledge than I ever thought possible. All of which will help me in my journey to be a better resident of this great community.

My experience, my love for my newfound ‘Freshmates’, and the Tallahassee community have made me a better person, and to my LT 38 classmates, I give my love and appreciation.

John Stafford is a shareholder at Moore, Ellison & McDuffie, CPAs, PA.