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Leadership Highlands Operating Policy


To develop leaders with a thorough understanding of, and strong sense of commitment to, Highlands County and an appreciation for the strength found in our county’s abundant diversity


  • To familiarize participants with the infrastructure, agencies, and economic enterprises that exist in Highlands County
  • To expose participants to a range of ever-changing community needs and to identify the resources available to meet those needs
  • To engender leadership potential and challenge each other to increase personal awareness about their community
  • To provide participants the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with community leaders
  • To encourage civic participation and volunteer involvement in the community


Leadership Highlands (LH) is administered by South Florida State College (SFSC) and is a partnership between SFSC and the Avon Park, Lake Placid, and Sebring chambers of commerce. It is overseen by an advisory board comprised of the SFSC Dean, Academic Support (Chair), the executive directors of the above chambers of commerce (Co-Vice Chairs), and a limited number of persons who have graduated from the program. The president of the most recent LH class rotates onto the board for a two-year term upon graduation.

In order to maintain the integrity of the program, it is necessary for all advisory board members to be LH alumni.  In the event that a chamber executive director has not yet graduated the program, the LH Advisory Board shall invite an alumnus/alumna from the fore said chambers board of directors to join the board, with full voting privileges, locum tenens.

Each applicant must agree in advance to attend all class sessions as published.  It is expected that each class member attend the orientation, the retreat, the Tallahassee trip, and the graduation ceremony.

The Leadership Highlands program shall be comprised of not less than eight or more than 10 class sessions over a 10-month period. Applicants will receive the schedule prior to acceptance into the program.

LH shall not seek applicants for enrollment strictly within the membership of the three chambers of commerce, but will require that a majority of the class each year are chamber members. Applications will be encouraged from across the spectrum of business, civic, cultural, social and governmental entities; regardless of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or genetic information.

The Advisory Board shall adopt an annual operating budget to support the program, and shall approve the tuition amount required to fully fund all program activities.

The LH Advisory Board shall have the authority to remove a member of the Advisory Board or a member of the class, with or without cause, upon a two-thirds vote of the Advisory Board membership.

The chair of the LH Advisory Board will be available to make periodic reports to the boards of directors of the three partnering chambers of commerce to assure continuing support and clear communication.


Michael McLeod (2003), Chair
Dean, Academic Support, SFSC

Jennifer Williams (2007), Co-Vice Chair
Board President, Avon Park Chamber of Commerce

Eileen May (Class President 2003), Co-Vice Chair
CEO/President of Operations, Greater Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce

Steve Nyhan (2012), Co-Vice Chair
President/CEO, Greater Sebring Chamber of Commerce

Julie Fowler, CPA (2002), Treasurer 

Laura Barben (Class President 2011), Secretary

John Barben (Inaugural Class President 2000)

Kris Juve (Class President 2010), Program Director

Leadership Highlands
South Florida State College
600 West College Drive
Avon Park, FL 33825

To contact us:
Phone: 863 784-7189