2013 Leadership Montgomery County class celebrates success

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2013 Leadership Montgomery County class celebrates success


By Catherine Dominguez


THE WOODLANDS — After nine months, 40 business leaders from Montgomery County happily walked across the stage at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott for their “diploma” as part of the 2013 graduating class of Leadership Montgomery County.

LMC board members highlighted the participants, their class project and presented Michael Barnhill, of Entergy and an LMC board member, with the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

“This luncheon is all about the graduates and the graduation,” said Linda Nelson, chairman of the LMC Board of Directors.

For graduate Melanie Bush, with Better Bookkeepers Inc., the experience was more than she expected.

“You really have to experience it for yourself,” she said. “I learned so much more about this county than I ever thought I would. I really appreciate this experience.”

Graduate Paco Rivera, with Green Bank, echoed Bush.

“Every one of us has something different, something incredible to add to this class,” Rivera said. “If all 40 of us were to come up here and tell you what this class meant to them, we would all be late for work tomorrow. LMC is a great program, and we are all lucky and blessed to have been selected.”

For graduate Cyndi Alvarado, of The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce, being a part of the class helped her form friendships and make business contacts with many businesses and organizations, including law enforcement officials and hospital representatives.

“I walked away with friendships with individuals I may not have met if I wasn’t in this program,” she said. “We have behind-the-scene tours at places like The (Cynthia Woods Mitchell) Pavilion, the CISD Natatorium and the dam at Lake Conroe.

Along with connecting with community leaders, the class members participated in a project they believe will make a difference and leave a legacy in the community.

The class raised funds to set up a BridgingApps site in Montgomery County where special-needs residents can be trained on the use of various digital tools and software.

BridgingApps is a volunteer community of parents, therapists, doctors and teachers who share information on how using devices like the iPad provide accessibility for people who may have been previously disengaged from the world because of challenging language, motor or other developmental delays. Given the rising number of apps on the market and the diverse skills of children and adults with special needs, parents have found each other to be one of the best resources for choosing apps to enhance everyday life for children of all ages.

The LMC class saw firsthand how technology can help families, including The Woodlands’ Andi Fry and her daughter Megan, a 14-year-old McCullough Junior High student. Megan is confined to a wheelchair and speaks through a computer device called a Dynavox.

Megan and her mother volunteered their time to be part of the new program in the county.

“We pulled together as a community on this project and it is a project I am proud of,” Alvarado said. “BridgingApps has allowed the special-needs community to communicate utilizing technology.”

Alvarado said it was eye-opening to see how the technology has helped Megan.

“(It allowed us) to see what an incredible young lady she was inside,” she said. “I’m blessed to be a part of what we are leaving behind for this community.”