Leadership Highlands Class of 2020

The Leadership Highlands Class of 2020 meeting Governor Ron DeSantis during its Tallahassee trip in February before the class had to be put on hold due to COVID-19.

AVON PARK — The Leadership Highlands Class of 2020 is on hold and recruitment of the 2021 Class delayed due to the pandemic.

Leadership Highlands Coordinator Kris Juve said the class had finished its trip to Tallahassee and Legislative tour on Feb. 25 and 26 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had a great trip and then we were scheduled to meet in March,” she said.

That March meeting day of activities was to focus on education and was to be held at South Florida State College near the end of the month of March.

It was cancelled with the hopes of rescheduling it, Juve said. The April session was designed to be a mid-year mini retreat with various speakers at Highlands Hammock State Park, but that couldn’t happen due to the pandemic.

Then the May session was to be a focus on health care starting in the morning at AdventHealth Sebring and then the afternoon learning about elder care with a visit to Good Sheppard Hospice.

The Class was scheduled to graduate in June during a luncheon at the Hotel Jacaranda.

But, in March everything was put on hold and the thought in March was to reschedule March and April programs, Juve said.

In April the class had a Zoom (online) happy-hour check-in to share how everyone was doing and how they were proceeding during the pandemic.

During the Zoom conference call, Economic Development Commission (EDC) Executive Manager of Business & Economic Development

Meghan DiGiacomo was elected class president and Chris Gunter, with the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, was elected vice president.

This time of the year Juve is usually meeting with her partners and picking dates for the next class and recruiting for the Class of 2021.

The Leadership Highlands Advisory Board met recently to discuss options for the the remainder of the year, Juve said.

“How do we finish the year and allow the class to graduate and ensure the integrity of Leadership Highlands in finishing up?” she said. With the social distancing guidelines it will be challenging, but they are looking at the best way that will work for the class and ensure they will hear from the speakers that were scheduled in March, April and May.

Leadership Highlands was founded in 1999 to familiarize the participants with the infrastructure, agencies and economic enterprises that exist in Highlands County.

About 20-28 participants from the public and the private sector attend the monthly classes that are held in different locations that are appropriate for the focus of that day’s class.

For information about enrollment or participation, contact Kris Juve at 863-784-7189 or email juvek@southflorida.edu.

Juve is also the coordinator of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) at South Florida State College.