Business leaders play a critical role in strengthening our region. The Chattanooga Chamber Foundation helps develop and retain talent through two prestigious, best-in-class programs for early, mid and late-career professionals – Leadership Chattanooga and Protégé Chattanooga. These programs offer comprehensive leadership training through experiential learning opportunities, peer-to-peer networking, and exclusive interaction with top community leaders. 

Shawnice Beard, Quality Management Liaison, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, offers a firsthand account of Protégé and Leadership’s top benefits:  

Shawnice Beard, Quality Management Liaison, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee

TREND: What was your experience going through Protégé and Leadership Chattanooga? How have these experiences influenced your professional development?  

Beard: If you are a young leader looking to expand your network and skills, Protégé Chattanooga and Leadership Chattanooga are the programs for you.  

In 2019, I had the opportunity to participate in Protégé. The experience helped me step out of my comfort zone and improve my public speaking skills.  

I was able to build lifelong friendships, connect with community leaders and grow professionally. I served on the board of Young Professionals of Chattanooga (YPC), after graduation, to further expand and upskill. I served for just over two years and became the Protégé Chair. It’s amazing to see the level of growth and impact made in what feels like a short time. 

I am now in Leadership Chattanooga, taking a deeper dive into the history of Chattanooga and our community needs. Each session teaches something valuable and I leave with assignments to expand on what I’ve learned.  

I’m filled with pride as I reflect on my journey from being a mentee in Protégé, to serving on my first board with YPC, to now being in Leadership Chattanooga’s “best class ever.”  

TREND: As Leadership Chattanooga graduation approaches, what message do you have for future candidates?  

Beard: The sessions are coming to an end, but my journey is not over. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone – just as I did. I look forward to connecting with you and working together to drive change in our beautiful city. 

Nominations for Leadership Chattanooga and Protégé are open until March 20. Nominate an aspiring leader today through our website, here.

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