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Celebrating Leadership: AYNU Leadership Institute Class of 2024 Graduation

We are excited to celebrate the graduation of our 2023-24 Leadership Institute cohort on June 5, 2024. Last week’s ceremony marked the culmination of months of dedication and hard work by 23 individuals from across our agencies, who committed themselves to deepening their understanding of leadership principles. We were honored to have Mecklenburg County Sheriff, Garry L. McFadden, as the ceremony’s keynote speaker who shared valuable insights on leadership with our graduates. 

“The Leadership Institute was very beneficial. One thing we talked about a lot was how we can better ourselves to support others as a leader,” said Marcus Mickell, Class of 2024 graduate. “We also discussed communication styles, emotional intelligence, and the importance of breaking down silos. In a large organization, being on the same page is crucial to ensuring everything runs smoothly.” 

Since its launch in September 2022, AYN University (AYNU) has become a beacon of growth and professional development for employees at Alexander Youth Network. At the core of AYNU’s programs is the AYN Leadership Institute, a transformative 6-month program that exemplifies our commitment to nurturing leaders of tomorrow. Through interactive learning, insights from internal experts, hands-on application, and mentorship, participants emerge as capable, confident leaders ready to drive positive change within our organization. 

“Although Alexander Youth network has had a leadership program in place in previous years, the Leadership Institute was reinvented to include a larger focus on leading with heart, said Sandra Pizarro, Chief People & Culture Officer and lead instructor for the Leadership Institute. “This amazing group of students poured their hearts and minds into our rigorous program—devoting several hours a month to classroom time, on-the-job practice, book and executive panel discussions, and growing their self-awareness. As an agency, we are so proud of their accomplishments and look forward to their continued growth as leaders.” 

Congratulations to each graduate for their success and achievement! We couldn’t be prouder of their achievements and the growth they’ve shown throughout this journey. Here are the members of the AYNU Leadership Institute Class of 2024:

Ashlyn Hodges
Bianca Reynolds
Cali Bowen Johnson
Catherine Crigler
Cherice King
Derick Pritchett
Diana Cooper
Ira Tolley
Kaitlyn Dixon
Latasha Burns
LaVonne Marion
Lavorice Smith
Lena Patel
Linda Henley
Lloiann Byers
Marcus Mickell
Megan Mayo
Ray Bridges
Rosemary Afrifa-Akwamoah
Ruben Marion
Shay Woodard
Tommy Moss
Tracey Harris

Check out this recap of the ceremony below!

Written by Kevin Whitlock

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