By Hugh Rafferty
Chairman, Leadership Santa Maria Valley

The Santa Maria Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Santa Maria Valley (LSMV) program graduated 14 members during a ceremony June 8, 2013.

LSMV is the Central Coast’s premiere leadership program. It is sponsored by the Santa Maria Chamber of Commerce and is geared toward those who want to make a difference in their community. This was the 18th class to graduate the program.

“Cultivating new leadership and increasing collaboration are vital to Santa Maria’s future. Leadership Santa Maria Valley is a vital community asset,” said City of Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino. “We need involved and informed leaders, like this class, who are committed to shaping Santa Maria.”

Participants met for a different topic day the first Friday of each month, September through June. The community served as their classroom.

“By learning about the various segments of Santa Maria, such as the military, agriculture, education, media, and government, the class gained better insight into the challenges and opportunities facing the city,” said LSMV’s Executive Director, Judi Kincaid.

During the first topic day last September, the class visited Vandenberg Air Force Base.

“This tour was an excellent opportunity for my classmates to learn more about the base’s role in national security, as well as the service members they live near or see in the community. They even had the chance to watch the base launch an Atlas 5 rocket!” said Maj. Stacie Shafran, director of public affairs for 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic).

LSMV also provided interaction with prominent leaders who influence daily living in the community.

“I really enjoyed developing a heightened awareness of key issues affecting Santa Maria and its leadership,” said Jefferson Ledgerwood, an Edward Jones financial advisor. “We had the chance, for example, to meet with Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin, Mayor Patino, a Santa Maria Juvenile Court judge, leaders from the agriculture industry, and local-area journalists.”

Since its creation in 1995, LSMV has also been focused on community service. Each class is expected to execute its own service project.

The Class of 2013 left its legacy by raising more than $4,000, benefiting Santa Barbara County Child Welfare Services and its foster care program. The class launched “GoBags Santa Maria,” a project that provides basic necessities, such as toiletries, clothing, and school supplies to foster children in transition.

Members of LSMV Class of 2013:

Allison Bailey, Boy and Girls Club Santa Maria Valley

Lt. Col. Burton Catledge, Vandenberg Air Force Base

Lee-Volker Cox, St. Mary of the Assumption School

Emma Duncan, Santa Barbara County Social Services

Hallie Holden, City of Santa Maria

Michelle Ladue, City of Santa Maria

Jefferson Ledgerwood, Edward Jones

Lisa Long, City of Santa Maria

Jeremy Moreno, TWIW Insurance Services

Valerie Moya, Pacific Western Bank

Terri Oneschuck, Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce

Anne Milne-Rampone, Coast Hills Federal Credit Union

Maj. Stacie Shafran, Vandenberg Air Force Base

Michelle Tabisola, Rabobank

Chuck Winkles, New Life Bath and Kitchen

More information about LSMV is available at www.lsmv.org.