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Leadership Academy graduates 14

The Suffolk Leadership Academy added 14 new members to its ranks in a Monday evening ceremony.

The group — called the “Magnificent 14” by Academy leader W. Ross Boone — was the 11th class to graduate from the academy. The program is designed to develop and strengthen the leadership skills of citizens who want to serve the community, and to foster a better understanding of the workings of city and state government.

More than 250 people have become Academy alumni.

“It has been a pleasure working with this group,” Boone said during Monday’s ceremony.

Students in the Academy — usually business leaders, city employees and others with an interest in the community — attend class once a week to learn more about Suffolk’s history, government, economic development, agriculture, education, volunteer opportunities and more.

The students also took a tour of the city and completed “shadow a leader” projects. They are encouraged to find their leadership niche after graduation.

Also during the graduation ceremony, the Dr. George H. Barnett Award of Excellence was presented to Suffolk Parks and Recreation Director Lakita Frazier. Under her leadership, such programs as the Suffolk Youth Advisory Council have been formed, helping to reduce violent crime in the city, said city spokeswoman and Academy planning committee member Debbie George.

The award is named after Barnett, a former mayor, who died in December. He was the driving force behind starting the academy, and he was fondly remembered at the Monday’s ceremony.

Graduate Charles Jolly, a battalion chief with the Suffolk Department of Fire and Rescue, said the program helped him learn more about how city government works and about the history of the city.

“I knew it had a rich history,” said Jolly, who said he learned more about the city’s past during a visit from the Suffolk Nansemond Historical Society. He also had not fully understood the role of constitutional officers until they were covered in the class.

Graduate Janet Carr, a civilian employee of the Suffolk Police Department, used to live in Suffolk and commute to Portsmouth for work until taking the job in Suffolk. She then decided she needed to know more about the city she had lived in for three years and now was working for, and she also wanted to know more about leadership.

“I thought it would be very beneficial,” Carr said. “I had a real burden to give of myself for the area.”

The newest Suffolk Leadership Academy graduates are:

Nathaniel Boyd, Suffolk Department of Fire and Rescue

Vera Bristow, Farmers Bank

Tyrone Brown, Suffolk Public Works Department

Janet Carr, Suffolk Police Department

Victoria Dail, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy

Domenick Epps, Team Jesus Music Group

Steve Ezzell, Western Tidewater Regional Jail

Charles Jolly, Suffolk Department of Fire and Rescue

Paul Lasakow, Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts

Cynthia Matthews, BASF Group

Barbara Midkiff, U.S. Coast Guard SILC

Tanya Scott, Western Tidewater Regional Jail

Betsy Totten, TowneBank

Rhonda Woody, ForKids Inc.

For more information on the Suffolk Leadership Academy, call 539-8789 x. 3339 or e-mail kcouncil@nsacademy.org.