A History Of Leadership Sevier

Committed to the future of Sevier County.

The idea to have a leadership program for Sevier County originated in the 1990’s along with a core group of people who thought it would be important to have such a program for the county. They wanted a program in which leaders from all parts of the county could get together to network and discuss and act on issues of common concern. The concept would provide a forum to showcase Sevier County, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tourism, Community Services and Emergency Services.

Robbie Fox, Judge Gary Wade, John B. Waters II, and R. B. Summitt II started Leadership Sevier. Most of the group had been through the Leadership Knoxville program and knew how important it was to Knox County and felt that it would certainly be a program that could benefit Sevier County. They solicited help from Jeanne Dulaney, LKC and the program CEO Debbie Aiken who was associated with Leadership Blount also helped.

Those gentlemen then tried to assemble a Board of Directors that would be inclusive of all of the cities and the county. In addition to the group of four, the first Leadership Sevier Board consisted of Bob Childress, Bill Maples, Jamesena Miller, Karen Wade, and Geoff Wolpert. From that Board it was decided that the theme of the organization would be to “Introduce. Inform. Inspire. Involve.” A motto was born.

In 1997, they persuaded Bob Gonia to become the program Dean. The first class of Leadership Sevier was selected and the program days began in the spring of 1997. In 2002 a program was implemented for the development of emerging leaders that was Leadership Tomorrow. Those emerging leaders gave birth to a new program at the high school level and that was Smoky Mountain Youth Leadership. To date over 700 leaders have been involved in one of the Leadership Sevier Inc. programs.

The primary purposes of Leadership Sevier are (1) to identify and select current and emerging leaders within the community; (2) to strengthen their knowledge and understanding of the community, its relevant issues, and each other through a series of monthly sessions; and (3) to challenge and motivate these participants to become even more committed, through leadership involvement, to the future of Sevier County.