Two Paris men — Paris-Henry County Chamber of Conference Executive Director Travis McLeese and John Penn Ridgeway, vice president of the McKenzie Tennessee College of Applied Technology — were among the 30 members of the WestStar Leadership Program’s class of 2019 who graduated June 25.

The closing event was held at Madison Downs Venue in Jackson. A 5:15 p.m. reception was followed by dinner and the graduation ceremony.

WestStar is the University of Tennessee at Martin’s regional leadership program that is supported by corporate sponsors and individual donors.

This marked the program’s 30th class and brings the total to 857 graduates since WestStar was established in 1989.

Members of this year’s class were competitively selected to learn new leadership skills and develop strategies for assisting communities in solving problems and maximizing potential.

Each WestStar class is chosen annually by the program’s board of trustees, with selection based on individual leadership achievements and potential to contribute to West Tennessee’s development.

Selected from all occupations and levels of community and regional involvement the class members complete eight sessions covering topics including agriculture and transportation, energy and environment, public policy issues, education and tourism.

Following recognition of the graduates, WestStar Executive Director Charley Deal quoted President Ronald Reagan who said, “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He or she is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”

Deal closed the event by challenging everyone present to make a positive difference in the region:

“Let us all leave here tonight committed to making a positive impact in our community, influencing positive change in West Tennessee and inspiring the next generation of leaders to commit to making our state even better than it is today.”

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