By Kendyl
For the Opelika

Local nonprofit Leadership Lee County has been identifying, honoring, educating and challenging county leaders through seminars, service projects and one-of-a-kind experiences since the 1980s.
The program, sponsored by the Auburn and Opelika Chambers of Commerce, is designed to help leaders hone in on their leadership skills and give them more opportunities to get involved in the community. Each class’s time in LLC runs from September to May.
“Probably all of the class is involved in the community in some way, and that’s why they’re chosen, but [LLC] just gives them the opportunity for insight that other people do not get if they’re not in the class,” said Lenzie Lane, executive director of LLC.
Applicants must either live or work in Lee County to be eligible for acceptance into the LLC class. Lane said all applicants must also be endorsed by their employers to apply for the program.
As executive director, Lane works with a board of directors to determine what each class’s year entails based on how the county is changing and developing. This includes arranging places for participants to visit and people for them to hear from one day each month.
“I just fill the schedule full of fun leaders, interesting people around the community, places to go see—even the food ties into people that are [local] to help out, so I’m not reaching past the county lines to bring in something … we’re still supporting people that are here,” Lane said.
Last Thursday, Lane organized a day of judicial experiences for LLC’s monthly session. The class was able to hear from the sheriff and chiefs of police for Auburn and Opelika, as well as the district attorney and some family court representatives. They also had the unique opportunity to visit a jail and have lunch there.
Lane’s involvement with LLC began before she became executive director in spring 2016. A former participant herself, Lane said she and her husband gained valuable connections and knowledge about various ways to get involved in the community.
“We had been here for about three years, and the amount of people that I met to network with and the caliber of other leaders that were in the class enabled me to have contacts for the rest of time because … we have an alumni group that helps out or that you can be in after you graduate, and so that provides the classmates with networking,” Lane explained.
The biggest challenge Lane said she faces is trying to pick and choose which opportunities to fit into the LLC class’s schedule because “[Lee] County has so much to offer.” She noted the class’s visit to the Food Bank of East Alabama and subsequent volunteer experience as a great opportunity to learn how to plug into the community through various organizations.
LLC is currently preparing for their first agricultural day, which will be April 19. Lane said this is one example of the board tweaking their yearly schedule to reflect growth and change in the area.
“It’s changing, and it’s never set in stone year to year what all we will visit or what all we will provide our leaders with an opportunity to see or hear because we’re trying to get what’s the newest and greatest and the most important to know about in our community,” Lane said.
Applications for the 2018-2019 class will be available online in May. For more information on the program and how to apply, visit