By Brenda L. Holmes email@example.com
Hendricks County Flyer
---- — PLAINFIELD — Leadership Hendricks County celebrated 20 years of training leaders for the county at its annual meeting Thursday at the Duke Energy Event Center at Metropolis mall. The organization also presented 2013 awards, including naming Donovan Peoples as Leader of the Year.
Mike Rogers, 2012 Lead of the Year, made the presentation.
“He leads by example and is a true servant leader,” Rogers said. “He was the in Leadership Hendricks County class of 1999 and serves as a township trustee.”
Peoples said he was humbled by the award.
“I did think it was strange that my favorite granddaughter was here,” he said. “And yes, she’s my only granddaughter. My favorite daughter-in-law is here too.”
He said his participation in LHC has helped him create many good friends and that he appreciated the organization very much.
April Bordeau was given the Suzanne Whicker Distinguished Service Award. Former Hendricks Regional Health CEO Dennis Dawes presented the award to Bordeau.
“April was the second executive director of Sheltering Wings,” Dawes said. “After a few years away from the organization, the board invited her back to help with a capital fund drive to double the size of the facility to accommodate more women in need.”
He said she did a great job with the drive and was then asked to serve as the interim executive director while the board searched for its new leader.
“April has filled several leadership roles at Sheltering Wings,” Dawes said. “Her passion is to help youth.”
Bordeau was visibly surprised about the honor and thanked the organization for the award.
“I think when you are knit together to do something, you just do it,” she said. “I know that anything good in my life has come from Jesus Christ. I am grateful he gave me the opportunity to serve.”
The event also included speakers representing different classes from the organization’s past 20 years. Speaking from the first LHC class was Susie Friend, who recently retired as executive director of the Hendricks County United Way.
“I got a letter about a wonderful new program,” Friend said. “I was living outside the county and thought it would be a good way to get to know the community, so I applied to be a part of the 1993 class. And I was so proud to be chosen for the first class of Leadership Hendricks County.”
She said when the program had completed its first class, there were discussions on how to proceed.
“There were talks about if it was successful and if we should continue to run the program,” Friend said. “And of course Suzanne Whicker went on to get the best job ever.”
Wicker served as the director of the program until her retirement in 2013.
“Leadership gave me to tools to know this county,” Friend said. “It provided me the confidence and knowledge to be successful.”
She said during her years with United Way several of her volunteers came from LHC.
“Leadership now has more than 400 graduates that are ready to be board members and to serve the community,” she said. “Leadership has become a catalyst for connecting people who are passionate about service. It’s so neat to see the leaders LHC has provided.”
Dr. John Sparzo moved to Hendricks County in 1997 to practice medicine at Hendricks Regional Health. He graduated from LHC with the class of 2003.
“I was called for jury duty,” Sparzo said. “Most of the time doctors are waived from serving on juries but I was interested in serving, so I went to jury selection.”
He said the defense attorney asked him if he knew Dr. Ron Stegemoller.
“I told them ‘no,’” he said. “They asked me again, ‘You don’t know Dr. Ronald Stegemoller, the busiest family medicine doctor in the county? He’s married to the prosecutor.’ Then they asked me if I knew Greg Steuerwald. I told them ‘no’ and they told me, ‘he lives across the street from you.’ That’s a true story.”
After that experience, he decided he needed to take the Leadership Hendricks County course just to learn the community.
“I went through the program with a very diverse group of professionals,” Sparzo said. “This program had a transformative effect on me.”
Speaking on behalf of the 2013 LHC class was John Nolan. He said it was a fun year breaking in the new executive director, Susan Rozzi.
“It’s kind of been like the Old Testament and the New Testament, but I do hesitate to call her (Rozzi) Jesus,” he said.
All joking aside, Nolan said his class knew he and his classmates had a wonderful opportunity.
“Our class realized that we wanted to be one of you,” he said. “We wanted to be Leadership alumni.”
He said they would like to start a new tradition. He would like for every time they hear the phrase, “best class ever,” to take a drink.
“You just have to take a drink of your iced tea or the occasional adult beverage,” he said. “So here’s to the class of 2014, the best class ever. We look for good things to come from you.”
Rozzi said her first year as executive director was an exciting one.
“We looked at our database and discovered that 150 of our alumni have spent time talking to our classes,” she said. “Fifty of us spoke to our youth program. That means that 50 percent of our membership is engaged just in our organization.”
She said there are 150 organizations in the county benefiting from the leadership training from the program.
“We have people out there working in the schools, with youth sports, with non-profits, councils, and trustees,” Rozzi said. “There is an incredible reach in this organization.”