This year's class of the Gillette Area Leadership Institute graduated at the Gillette College Tech Center on June 13. Guest speaker Jillian Balow, the Wyoming Department of Education's Superintendent, addressed the graduates and encouraged them to always be looking for opportunities to lead.
"It's not always glamorous to be a leader," she said. "It's about being a part of something much bigger than ourselves, every single day."
Balow graduated high school from Campbell County, and was a teacher here and in Hulett for ten years before being elected to the State Superintendent position in 2014. She spoke about the importance of local government, and how it's critical for those who want to be community leaders to talk to their school board, city councilors and county commissioners about the decisions that may affect their future.
"It's really important that you're connected to those folks," she said. "Come to the table with some kind of solution to offer up, because we truly care about hearing from you, and you do make an impact."
Balow is one of five statewide elected positions (along with the Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, and Auditor), and stated that even though she's an educator, she sits on many different sorts of boards, like the State Loan and Investment Board, which is part of the Wyoming Business Council.
"I know more about water towers and sewer systems than I ever thought I would need to know as an educator. But what makes a difference is when we hear from you all in the community."
She stressed that it's very important that all five state elected positions be accessible to Wyoming residents, because hearing what is important to you is a responsibility she feels they have to have, in order to make our communities stronger.
"Don't ever discredit yourself or your worth in sharing what you're passionate about."
If you're interested in applying for the next G.A.L.I. class (which starts in September,) applications are available on our website and are due to be returned to the Chamber by July 16.
You can see more photos from today's graduation on our Facebook page.
Brenda Kirk is a writer with over two decades of journalism experience.