President's Corner

Billy Pittard

Harry Lange

Establishing A Leadership Path

If you attended the annual conference, specifically the installation ceremony, you may recall hearing me say that there have been times in my life when I didn’t have any idea how I got to where I was. Becoming president of ACCG was one of those times. Although I recognized some of the people who influenced my path to the presidency, I never talked about the path that I took. It is my hope, that by sharing my story, I can encourage others to pursue a similar path.

Becoming the ACCG president was much like my election to the Oglethorpe County Commission. It was unplanned. Personally, I would rather be the first lieutenant and make the general look good than to be the general himself. However, I realized early in life that if you really think you have the best solution or path, you must take the reins and drive the wagon.

ACCG, like every successful organization, depends on quality leadership throughout its ranks. In my observation, the leadership at ACCG has done a great job recruiting and cultivating excellent paid and volunteer leaders. I’m confident that most of these volunteer leaders, like myself, didn’t really get to the top by planning that path – it just happened. But things don’t “just happen”. There are things that you do and people that you encounter that blaze the proverbial trail.

The first thing that I can point to that helped me along the way was my aggressive pursuit of certification in the commissioners’ education and training program. I’m not a student by nature, but as an elected full-time administrator, I found all my training to be extremely helpful. At the spring conference in May 2011, after only two years in office, I received my CCAP (advanced Commissioner) certification. Constant pursuit of training, and the people that you meet throughout that process, are paramount to spring boarding into ACCG’s leadership progression.

At that same conference, Ross King, then assistant director to former ACCG Executive Director Jerry Griffin, came up to me and congratulated me on receiving my certification – doing so on short order. I thanked Ross and told him that I would like to get more involved in the organization in order to have a better understanding of how things worked. Ross replied, “I’ll make that happen!”. I didn’t think much about my conversation with him, but the next thing I knew I was on our legislative advocacy’s Revenue and Finance Committee, which I eventually co-chaired and then chaired.

The next person and event that I can point to was Steve Vaughn, former director of ACCG Retirement Services (GEBcorp). As the county administrator, I needed to know exactly how our retirement services worked and Steve was happy to oblige. I spent many hours with Steve and, eventually, I was sure I was going to get a cap and gown. Although there was no formal graduation, I did get recruited to sit on GEBCorp’s Defined Contribution Board of Trustees. I continued to learn so much about retirement services and the organization while on the DC Board, and I really enjoyed the responsibility and the awesome people with whom I had the pleasure to serve.

Next, I was encouraged to submit my name for consideration for the Board of Managers. I wasn’t really sure what the BOM did, but some of my colleagues on that board seemed to think that I needed to be there. After a little research I decided to submit my application and at some point, I was accepted to the Board of Managers and eventually into the association’s presidential process.

It is important that we continue to recruit the leadership for the organization. Hopefully some of you will see my message, let your interest be known, and start on your own path to the presidency. If you have interest and questions, please contact me, Dave Wills or his staff, or any of the current members of the Board of Managers, and we’ll make sure to get you the information needed to start your path to association leadership.