Leadership Huntsville L35

Flourish is absolutely honored to take part in this year’s Flagship Program, which is part of Leadership of Greater Huntsville’s core program offering. 

Flagship is a ten-month program designed for established senior leaders who have demonstrated leadership experience and proven success over significant business operations. Flagship provides in-depth knowledge of our community and facilitates small group projects that give back. Flourish’s CEO and Founder, Megan Nivens-Tannett, was accepted into this years’ program and will be providing a unique perspective piece once a month right here – so be sure to come back often to follow her journey! 

In addition to opening and closing retreats, the program spends eight months highlighting greater Huntsville and Madison County. Participants engage in the North Alabama Economic Base, Innovation, Education, Human Services, Healthcare, Local, State and Federal Government and Public Safety. To support this goal, small-group projects are developed to immediately impact change throughout the community. Flagship is an intense, immersive group learning experience that stresses the importance of leadership through service and provides an opportunity for community collaboration.

Our Leading Like a Local Day kicked off at Huntsville Community Drumline, where we were heard from many local area leaders and of course, Ms. Angela Walker who founded HCDL many years ago. A leadership grad herself, she’s now the program chair for the Leading Like a Local Day and is responsible for pulling together the days’ activities. Our entire group was broken into small groups (those groups that will be working on the small group projects – more to come on this later) and were thrust into the community in a variety of different ways. The intent behind the day is to give an in-depth glimpse into all things Huntsville and gain perspective around areas that you may not be aware of.

Our day didn’t disappoint and included a personalized tour of Glenwood Cemetary (which provided so much history around African Americans who made an impact in our community), a visit to Huntsville Revisited (one of the MOST amazing, historical spots that truly captures the rich history of Huntsville in ways that will keep you guessing), a trip to Light On Yoga (where we each got to experience aerial yoga), lunch at one of our favorite spots, Domaine South, a tour of the Downtown Huntsville Secret Art Trail, a tour of Lowe Mill, (one of the largest privately-owned arts facility in the southern United States), and ended the day at the always delish, Bandito Burrito.

Arts & Entertainment Day was also full of amazing things and kept the team in awe from start to finish. We began our day by getting an in-depth look at the amazing development efforts underway by one of our city’s leading commercial development companies, RCP Companies. We then got a tour of the highly anticipated Huntsville Amphitheatre, which is rumored to have some of the most amazing musicians on deck for the Spring of 2022, then took a tour of Stovehouse, an old factory that has been transformed into a village of eclectic restaurants, gourmet cocktail & coffee bars, event & entertainment spaces, boutique shopping, offices and more. While there, we learned about the history of one the most amazing coffee shops, Charlie Foster’s, and its founding team that started Merrimack Hall, a local performing arts center that offers inclusive programs that give people with special needs the chance to explore and express their creativity in a non-competitive setting.

We then toured Lowe Mill and got an up-close and personal dive into several of the local artists and their crafts. We then met with the Von Braun Center’s General Manager and the Owner and Coach of the Huntsville Havoc Hockey Team to learn a bit about the great things they do for our community through events, concerts and so much more. We finished the day learning a bit about the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, watched Oakwood University’s Aeolians perform the most beautiful music, then ended our evening at Mars Music Hall with music and great food. To say the day was eventful is an understatement – and each piece showcased a beautiful perspective of Huntsville that makes this community the best place to call home.

Our most recent day was Human Services Day, which was an opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the needs in our community by hearing from and experiencing several local area non-profits. If we can say that one day thus far has been emotionally impactful, it was this one, ya’ll. We’ve been involved in our community for a long time but learned SO MUCH about the major gaps that often go overlooked in Madison County. Kicking off at Huntsville’s well known First Baptist Church in Huntsville, we heard from several organizations and had a chance to ‘speed date’ with many – including Still Serving Veterans, Big Brothers Big Sisters, New Hope Children’s Clinic, New Futures, and the United Way of Madison County. We then toured Second Mile Development, the Downtown Rescue Mission, United Cerebral Palsy of Madison County, and the Manna House. In between, our entire group assisted the Food Bank of North Alabama’s mobile food pantry, which delivered hundreds of food items to those in need at Milton Frank Stadium. In addition, our team was really able to experience firsthand some of the challenges that those with disabilities face. Facilitated by UAH’s Kinesiology Department, we took part in wheelchair basketball, Paralympic boccia, sitting volleyball, and more. There were many other organizations that our group visited in their small groups (there are 54 of us, so sometimes we divide and conquer!) but overall, the day left our hearts so full and filled with ideas on how we can help give back to our community.

One thing that’s worth noting in case YOU are interested in giving back or if your company is looking to take part in a community effort, is the United Way of Madison County’s Community Needs Update – which can be found on their website. They’ve done a phenomenal job at highlighting core areas of need within our community and outlining those organizations that can and do directly impact those need areas. Everything from the lack of affordable housing to the skills gap for students due to COVID-19 can be found here. Get involved today – our community needs you!!

We were so inspired by the Human Services Day that we decided to take it upon ourselves to promote the community’s needs on our own platform. Originally, our goal for the 2021 holiday season was to highlight a variety of nonprofit organizations in the area in the weeks leading up to the holiday season. Instead, we sat down with the United Way of Madison County, which is the true lifeblood for our community and area nonprofits. They provide a TON of resources and are such an amazing organization to support if you’re looking to make a one-time donation or a lifelong one. Check out the video we did with Cathy and Claudia here.

Our most recent Flagship outing was focused on something that impacts every single person in our community: Education. Our Education Day was packed FULL of insightful discussion, a behind-the-scenes-look at each of our community’s school districts, as well as taking part in tours across some of our area’s best and brightest schools. This included the Academy for Academics and Arts, J.F. Drake State Community & Technical College, Calhoun Community College, Randolph School, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Grissom High School, Madison County Career Technical Center, Alabama A&M University, and more. The day kicked off with a panel to include each of our community’s superintendents, where they provided an overview of their challenges, successes, how we can help as community leaders, and more. We also had an opportunity to hear from the Alabama Association of School Boards to understand how school funding works – and what we can do to help ensure it continues in the right areas. The day finished off by understanding more about social and emotional wellness within our schools, and what local organizations are doing to strengthen it. An amazing presentation was given by WellStone, who is projected to open a brand new facility in Huntsville in Spring 2022. In addition to providing multiple options for treatment and/or counseling, they also offer in-school counseling at any time, at no cost to the students, which has proven to be literally life-saving.

>>If I took one thing away from this day (which there were so many!) it’d be this: our teachers are true heroes and have been asked to sacrifice SO much over the past several years. They get beat up on social media by parents who disagree with them (even though many decisions are outside of their control), are underpaid, overworked and frankly, stressed out. We need to support and lift them up as much as we’re able – and you don’t have to be a parent of a student to do so. Consider going out of your way this holiday season (and any time, for that matter!) to support them in their mission to make our kids the best generation yet.

Government Day provided such a great glimpse into all things local and state government. Our discussions focused on the role of the local area government, how we can get involved and what challenges they face that we, as local community leaders, can do to support them. We started the day off by hearing from the Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments (TARCOG) on the importance of regional collaboration. We then heard from the City of Huntsville’s Manager of Urban Development and Long-Range Planning on the importance of regionalism and how entities, when they work together, can help propel a city’s mission for strategic growth. Additional panels included representatives from the Huntsville/Madison Chamber of Commerce, City of Huntsville, City of Madison, City of Athens, and more. We toured the historic (and beautiful!) Limestone County Court House after receiving a tour of all the development efforts underway in Limestone County. By the way, have you heard of Buc-ee’s yet? If not, you’re about to!

We were lucky enough to have our lunch speaker, John Merrill and current Alabama Secretary of State, talk about the important role we play as citizens of Alabama, and how we can leave a lasting legacy. In addition, we learned what the biggest challenge of our local area Mayors is: Growth. As City of Huntsville Mayor Battle stated, ‘Our greatest success is our biggest challenge.’ It may not be massive compared to other markets such as Atlanta or Dallas, but did you know that 32 people move to Madison County every single day? That’s a lot, especially if you don’t have the infrastructure – or the right people – to manage it effectively.

We finished out our day touring the new North Huntsville Service Center (which is amazing!) and spent time with our local area public service representatives, including our Tax Assessor, License Director, County Commission Chairman, Probate Judge and (what ended up sparking the juiciest conversation of the day), or County Coroner. Yep, you heard that right. Our County Coroner was SO INTERESTING and a fantastic way to end the day. Our last panel included Senator Arthur Orr, Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, and Representative Parker Moore, who finished out the day with an inspirational and impactful Q&A. Bottom line from this day: we’re so thankful to be supported and surrounded by such amazing individuals who are busting their butts for the right reasons. Politicians and state reps can sometimes get bad raps – but this group was fantastic 🙂

In March, we were thoroughly energized with Health & Wellness Day, which gave us a great glimpse into so many community wellness programs that spanned both physical, emotional, and mental health. We started things out at Torch Technologies, where we heard from WellStone about the future of mental illness in our community. A huge problem we’ve faced in the past is the lack of resources available to properly identify and treat mental illness – which begins at home and in our school system. Our teachers haven’t been equipped to handle the increase in mental health challenges that our students have faced, but organizations such as Wellstone are doing everything they can to assist.

Afterward, our team took place in round table discussions with local community leaders who spoke openly about their struggles with PTSD, Addiction, Mental Illness, and Suicide. To say it was a heavy discussion was an understatement. I personally have had experience with addiction, PTSD, and mental illness in my family, and it’s something that really hits home. I’m SO glad that people like Alex Hendrix and John Schmitt (pictured below, top right) are having the hard conversations when it’s needed the most. They are the true heroes in our eyes and we’re proud to call them part of the Flourish Family.

After a heavy morning, we headed over to HudsonAlpha, the biotech gem of North Alabama, where we learned all about how our genetics can help us be more proactive in the care of our long-term health. HudsonAlpha offers SO many services to our community; if you’re not aware of them be sure to check them out here. While at HudsonAlpha, we did a bit of speed dating with local area resources that are focused on overall wellness. Our ‘dates’ were with the F3 Foundation, Cycle Belles, All of Us Research Program, Huntsville Parks and Recreation, Fleet Feet, Land Trust of North Alabama, and All-Age Fitness.

Following our time at HA, we went to Huntsville Hospital, and got to see things up and close and personal in their new Orthopedic & Spine Tower. To say our community is lucky to have this resource is an understatement! It’s absolutely beautiful and state-of-the-art. We then went over to Crestwood Medical Center and had the most fun learning how to use some of the tools in their neurosurgery operating room; don’t worry, no patients were involved and all safety precautions were taken before and after our stay. We had the chance to use a drill to make our mark on some hard-boiled eggs.

The day was closed out by one of our community’s finest women making big impacts, Pam Hudson, CEO of Crestwood Medical Center. Overall, this day fell very heavy on the heart. So much so, that this, along with our entire journey in Flagship thus far, has encouraged our Small Group to create a program dedicated towards mental health and overall wellness, but to those who need it most right now: our local area school teachers. This program, called Recharge, will be launched in early May and will be an online resource that we hope will provide the tools necessary for teachers to Recharge themselves by recognizing the signs of mental stress, and how to cope. If you’d like to get involved and/or donate to this cause, reach out to Megan@flourishconsultingservices.com. All contributions are tax-deductible.

April was focused on something that is very close to my heart, Public Safety. Public Safety personnel and first responders run in my family and are the backbone of our community – in so many ways. Unfortunately, they also bear the brunt of most devastating situations and struggle with the implications that last long after a bad situation. The day began at the Huntsville Police Academy where the team was treated to a hands-on experience at the Huntsville Firing Range. Some did well; some not so much 🙂 We heard from local public safety personnel on our local government perspectives and their role in our community. We heard from several ‘local heroes,’ including those from the Huntsville-Madison County EMA, Alabama A&M Dept of Public Safety, Huntsville Utilities, and more.

Our team then got to get an up-close-and-personal tour of our community’s brand new 911 Center, the Huntsville/Madison County 911 Call Center. This 30K square foot state-of-the-art facility opened in 2020 and is paramount to providing the best service possible to our growing population. The team then heard from several local agencies on the importance of inter-agency communication and collaboration, and how it’s critical to our community’s public safety initiative.

Our day finished up with several training simulations and demonstrations, which were provided by HEMSI, Huntsville Fire & Rescue, North Alabama Drug Task Force, Not One More Alabama (NOMA), SWAT, VirTra, and our local area K-9 unit.

Our last and final day with the Flagship L-35 class consisted of a top-secret agenda: Behind the Gate! For those that don’t know, Huntsville and Madison County are home to Redstone Arsenal, a US Army base that employs more than 45K people. In addition to supporting the Army, Redstone is home to so many innovative and cutting-edge developments that directly support the efforts of NASA, FBI, DoD, space exploration, missile defense, and so much more. Our day kicked off by an opening keynote from the Deputy Commanding General for the US Army Material Command (AMC), Lieutenant General Donnie Walker. We also heard from Redstone Garrison Commander, COL Glenn Mellor, on what’s to come for the Arsenal based on where we’ve been. To be honest, its these moments that make me so proud to call Huntsville home – not only because of our desire to support our Warfighter in almost everything we do but the advancements our community is spearheading across so many lines of effort.

We continued the morning with a behind-the-scenes tour of the Arsenal, where we got to tour the US Army Redstone Test Center (where they XXXX), took a tour of the Redstone Airfield, and got in an in-depth look at the PEO Missiles & Space Displays.

Did you know that Huntsville is now home to the FBI’s 2nd World HQ? Yep, completion just finished on 1 of 2 major campuses that will be home to a world-class training facility for the Bureau, which will bring more than 3K jobs to the area over the next few years. We then got an up-close-and-personal look at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), and of course, got an exciting update on all things SLS and Artemis. We’re months away from launching into deep space, pending no additional setbacks.

We finished out the day with presentations focused on the Army’s Modernization strategy and how local area businesses are fuelling the effort through collaboration and innovation.

This day had to come – and it ended with a bittersweet graduation ceremony for Flagship’s L-35 Class – the Best Class Ever! It was an amazing honor to be part of this program, and the amount of new friends, connections, and challenges we’ve seen firsthand that we’re all now energized to support has not ended – its merely begun a new chapter in each of our lives. Flourish will continue to fuel the Leadership path – as this is a community-based program that is literally transforming our county in ripping effects each and every day.

In case you hadn’t heard – one of the milestones for L-35 (and most classes that take part in Leadership) are the small group projects. each class is broken into small groups early on in the programming and are responsible for addressing a need in some capacity.

Some groups raised upwards of $60K to fund and build wheelchair-accessible equipment for local area organizations in need. Some raised enough to purchase a new forklift for our largest foodbank to allow for better storage and access during peak times. Other groups dedicated their time to helping local foster families by creating memories to strengthen the relationship that will forever make a mark on both the parents and the children. Seeing firsthand what challenges our community faces and being purposeful about our intention to become servant leaders is exactly what each community needs – not just ours. If we all share a similar mindset when we look at leaving our legacy, our world will be left a better and more integrated place to call home.

To learn more about Leadership Greater Huntsville, click here