Grassroots Leaders Embark on Journey to Create Community Change

September 27, 2011

SPARTANBURG, SC – September 27, 2011 – Twenty-five Spartanburg County residents are embarking on a new journey to improve the community by utilizing the skills they have gleaned from their participation in the 2011 Grassroots Leadership Development Institute.  A graduation ceremony was held at the Spartanburg Marriott on Tuesday, September 20, 2011, with over 150 present to show their support. 

The Grassroots Leadership Development Institute is a special initiative of The Spartanburg County Foundation.  This seven month leadership training program is designed to equip participants with the knowledge, skill-set, and resources to be effective in leading change at the grassroots level.  Participants meet one Saturday a month to increase their ability to make a positive difference in their neighborhoods and in the greater Spartanburg community. 

For the past six years, the City of Spartanburg has joined the Foundation as a sponsor by sending several of the City’s local neighborhood leaders through the Institute, thereby increasing their ability to bring about significant change in their neighborhoods. 

The 2011 Grassroots Leadership Development Institute graduates are Dana Ballew, Cathy Garner, Sonya Gray, Calandra L. Hardy, Marshall Irby, Queen E. Kerns, Angela Means, Deborah Jean Moore, Martha Pearson, Anzonia M. Reeder, Jekeithlyn Stroble Ross, Olivia J. Sartor, Jokeitha M. Seabrook, William U. Seabrook, Jr., Erica Shanks, Mary G. Smith, Michelle N. Smith, Phoebe Smith-Hinton, Margaret J. Swindler, Marilyn J. Sykes, Jada Tessnier, Marcus Thomas, Susan Vasquez, Stephanie Wade, and R. Nicole Wilkins.




The ceremony honored these participants, as well as commended them for their leadership in our community.  The program featured remarks from Dr. John Stockwell, chancellor emeritus of the University of South Carolina Upstate, and class reflections from 2011 graduates Marcus Thomas, Olivia Sartor, and Erica Shanks.

Since its inception in 2004, over 150 individuals have graduated from the Institute and serve the community in various leadership roles.

The Grassroots Leadership Development Institute is now accepting applications for its 2012 session. 

For more information regarding the Institute or to obtain an application, please contact Tara Weese at The Spartanburg County Foundation at (864) 582.0138 or visit