Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program celebrates 10 years

Program builds leadership skills and career readiness

Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer Scott T. Hamilton meets with Golden LEAF Scholarship Alumni at the Foundation’s headquarters in Rocky Mount in November 2019.

Every spring for the past 20 years, Golden LEAF has awarded scholarships to rural students to attend the state’s four-year colleges and universities. Over the past 10 years, recipients of the Golden LEAF Scholarship have had the opportunity to receive leadership training and secure paid internships in rural communities.

Many of the 1,125 Golden LEAF Scholars who have participated in the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program (GLSLP) are first-generation college students.

“My leadership journey created by Golden LEAF continues to be shaped through my work,” said Chase Conner, Golden LEAF Alumni and Executive Director of the Martin County Chamber of Commerce. “I am forever grateful for the guidance and opportunities this program gave to a small town, first-generation introvert. Everyone can be a leader and move mountains in their community.”

Managed by the Center for Creative Leadership, the program offers two weekend conferences a year with a focus on leadership training and an emphasis on rural communities.

“The Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program helped me immensely in providing opportunities to network, develop professional skills, and recognize my potential as a leader,” said Grace Brinson Herman, Golden LEAF Scholarship Alumni and Director of the WIC program for Ashe, Alleghany, and Watauga counties. “It also instilled in me a desire to serve and give back to rural areas across N.C.”

Golden LEAF Program Officer Barbara Smith is presented with an award for her 10 year’s of work with the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program.

Scholars in the program participate in paid internships in rural communities related to their career interests. As part of the internship, the scholars are asked to evaluate their communities and work on projects with a workforce and community leadership emphasis.

“Before the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program internship, I was not aware of what was going on in my community,” said Allison Cotton, Golden LEAF Scholarship Alumni and Social Worker with the Hertford County Department of Social Services. “The program helped me with my leadership journey by encouraging me to connect with my community.”

Many participants decide to return to live and work in their rural community and are even hired by one of their internship sites.

“I am now working full-time where I served as an intern for three years through the leadership program,” said Gayla Olvera, Direct Care Staff and Patient Care Coordinator at Pride Within Psychosocial Rehabilitation Program. “The Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program equipped me with the strong skills necessary to succeed in my career and for the rest of my life.”

Participants in the leadership program are eligible for stipends up to $8,830 over a four-year period in addition to Golden LEAF Scholarship funding. For more information on the GLSLP, click here.

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