Inaugural Leadership Academy Class reflects on history and culture of the Plymouth region

October 18th, 2013 by Lynn

    PLYMOUTH — On Wednesday, Oct. 9, the Leadership Academy Class of 2014 spent the day immersed in discussions about the history and culture of Plymouth and the surrounding region. Plymouth State University played host to the group of eleven local professionals who are members of the inaugural class of Plymouth Regional Chamber of Commerce’s leadership program.

    The day began with the group receiving a private before-hours viewing of the Museum of the White Mountains’ first major exhibition, “Passing Through: The Allure of the White Mountains.” The Museum of the White Mountains officially opened its doors in February 2013 and has already hosted over 3,000 visitors midway through its first show. The Leadership Academy was treated with a preview of the new addition to the current show, Through the Eyes of the Dealers: Bob and Dot Goldberg, which is on loan from the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College and officially runs from Oct. 17 through March 2, 2014. Dr. Catherine S. Amidon, the founding director of the Museum of the White Mountains, kicked off the day’s presentations with an introduction to the early history of the White Mountains and illustrated the strong ties between art, tourism, and the region’s economy.

    Plymouth State’s Chair of the Department of History and Philosophy, Marcia Schmidt Blaine, provided further information on the culture, values, and demographics of the region. Professor Blaine’s passionate and knowledgeable presentation energized the entire Leadership Academy group and provided an excellent foundation for the rest of the day’s speakers.

    The next stop on the group’s agenda took them across Plymouth State’s campus to a well-known local landmark, the Draper & Maynard Building. While many local residents may be aware of D&M’s association with Babe Ruth and the Red Sox, Louise McCormack, Professor of Health and Human Performance at Plymouth State University, shared a more robust account of the history of Draper & Maynard and its relationship with the region. All of the Leadership Academy’s members were impressed by the entrepreneurialism of the company that was originally known as the Plymouth Buck Glove company. While many local residents may know the general story of the Draper & Maynard company, Professor McCormack explained that countless stories surrounding this company and its local ties remain to be told.

    The next stop on the group’s walking tour was Plymouth State’s Silver Center for the Arts. Chris Thayer, Director of North Country Programs & Outreach for the Appalachian Mountain Club started the afternoon describing the broad range of opportunities provided by AMC throughout the region. Mr. Thayer highlighted the importance of partnerships between local non-profits, government organizations, and educational institutions and how they help to support a successful future for the region.

    Diane Jeffrey, Director of the Silver Center for the Arts, provided the Leadership Academy members with a personal tour of the center’s facility. Built in the early 1990’s, the Silver Center remains a pillar of the local arts community and draws an annual average of 30,000 visitors. What may be a surprise is the fact that roughly 75 percent of all visitors to the Silver Center are not members of the Plymouth State University community. The Silver Center, while primarily focusing on PSU students, also serves as the major cultural arts center in central New Hampshire and presents guest artists whose work “reflects the best in American and world cultures.”

    Frumie Selchen, Executive Director of the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire, closed the day by challenging the group’s members to view how they contribute to the region’s art community and asked them to broaden how they define the “arts”. Selchen also urged the group to consider the importance of collective impact throughout the region and beyond.

    The 2014 Leadership Academy class is comprised of 11 professionals who live or work in the greater Plymouth area. The focus of the newly launched Academy is to make connections in the community, encourage networking, foster collaboration and help individuals achieve their goals. Nine monthly sessions are held, covering topics such as history and culture, education, healthcare, economic development, environment and sustainability, human services, criminal justice and government.

    The purpose of the Leadership Academy Program is to cultivate civic awareness and engagement among existing and emerging leaders within the region. Program participants are exposed to the many challenges and opportunities facing the region, and are encouraged to engage in those where they can exercise their passion and expertise toward improving the community.

    The Plymouth Regional Chamber of Commerce serves the business community by promoting the greater Plymouth area as a unique place to live, work, and play, and by recognizing its business, social, and economic opportunities. As the leading business organization in the region the Plymouth Regional Chamber is creating new opportunities, collaborating with many regional and state organizations, and assisting with building a more comprehensive community. For more information about the Leadership Academy program or the Plymouth Regional Chamber of Commerce, you may contact the Chamber office at 536-1001, or e-mail info@plymouthnh.org.

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