January 2021
Alumni Spotlight: Holly Porter
As a farmer's daughter, who ran as far from the farm as possible during her college years, Holly surprised herself with the passion that she has for the agricultural community, and a desire to support this community through policy and marketing, so that farmers, like her father, can continue to farm to feed our nation. Holly is the executive director of the Delmarva Chicken Association.

What new things are going on in your life and business?

Rebranding the Delmarva Poultry Industry (DPI) to the Delmarva Chicken Association (DCA) is very new, and came as a result of strategic planning with the board of directors. Our name needs to reflect who we are and our mission. We represent all aspects of the chicken community of the Delmarva region. The name change prompted the change of our logo too. The old logo, a chick with a chef's hat, actually was representative of the Delmarva Chicken Festival, a festival promoting education of the chicken industry, which ended its 65 year run in 2014.

How has your experience in LEAD influenced your use of leadership skills/approaches and shaped you as a leader?

I give so much of the credit for my professional career to LEAD Maryland. The listening skills, conflict management, discussion skills and understanding various aspects affecting agriculture across the state and in various regions of the state, helped me in my career. But mostly, it's the network or sources we were introduced to during our seminars that have really opened doors for me. For example, through LEAD Maryland I met Delaware's Secretary of Agriculture, Ed Key, which opened many doors to my career.

Introspective sessions with LEAD also helped me to take a closer look at myself, my strengths and weaknesses. I found that I became more aware of policy developments and my passion grew to help make policy and strategic decisions for Maryland and Delaware. Using my strengths and my passion has helped me to go from a marketing specialist with MidAtlantic Farm Credit, to working for the Delaware Department of Agriculture, and now as the executive director of the Delmarva Chicken Association.

How did your international study experience impact you personally and professionally?

Personally, the opportunity to travel to Chile and visit this country through and agricultural lens, instead of as a vacation tourist, opened opportunities to see the various aspects of agriculture from a different viewpoint, and there was something for everyone. The love, passion, and kindness shown by the agricultural community is there no matter the country you visit!

When I was working for the Delaware Department of Agriculture, a group visiting from Chile came from a region we visited on our LEAD travel study experience, and I was able to bond with the visitors and relate to them, and this helped them to feel more comfortable--small world.

What surprised you the most about LEAD? Is there something you gained from LEAD that you didn't expect?

The friendships and long lasting relationships that were made, and how, when I walk into an agriculture dinner, I see friends; friends that I can work with professionally, friends I know I can call upon at any time, any day, and still do to this day.

What value does LEAD offer to Maryland agriculture as a whole?

By building leaders, it builds a strong agricultural community. Any time I go to an important agriculture meeting, I see a lot of LEAD alumni as the decision makers at the table. Seeing and experiencing a variety of issues in various parts of the state provides a better understanding and respect for what's going on, and the diversity the state offers, to make better informed decisions. Also, any time I see or hear of leadership positions open, I go to LEAD alumni to fill those positions.

What advice would you offer a potential LEAD fellowship applicant?

I would tell them to be open-minded to embrace all aspects of LEAD.

An Invitation from Class XI Fellow, Jess Armacost

As we look for ways to grow and stay connected virtually through the pandemic, we have decided to host a book discussion. We invite you to join us. We hope to host a couple this year, so if you are unable to join us now, feel free to join us later.

Our first book will be: The Speed of Trust, by Stephen Covey with Rebecca Merrill. We have tentatively planned the discussion for 7:00 PM on either February 24 or 25. If one of those dates does not work, please let me know and if we have a number of people who need a different week, we will reschedule.  

We realize that not everyone may have the time to read the entire book, so to help everyone get the most out of the book and discussion, we are asking if you plan to read the book that you sign up to give a brief summary of one of the chapters or sections. In February, we will begin our discussion by hearing the summary from each chapter. All are welcome to join us for the book discussion. It is our hope that by having a summary of each chapter/topic that, even if you did not read the book, you can join in the discussion and take away something, too!  

If you would like to join us, please sign up using the link below. Even if you are not ready to choose a chapter, please sign up using the last option to register as a participant so I have your information to send the meeting information.   

We hope you will consider joining us. Please share this information with your class members. 

Jessica Armacost <jessicaarmacost@gmail.com> 

Do You Want to Shape the Future of LEAD? 
Committee Members Are Needed

We are still looking for people to join our Committees. Do you have ideas on ways to improve the LEAD Fellowship Program? Now is a great time to get more involved. Committees are meeting virtually, allowing participation from volunteers throughout the state without the time and costs of traveling. 

Please consider signing up for one or more of the following committees:
  • Alumni
  • Class Selection
  • Curriculum
  • Finance
  • Fundraising
  • International Study Tour
  • Nominating
  • Scholarship
  • Visiting Programs
If you are interested and would like to sign up for one or more of these committees, please contact Elizabeth Friedel

Upcoming Events:

January 14-16
LEAD will be an exhibitor at the virtual Future Harvest conference. 

January 20
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Virtual Information Session on the LEAD Fellowship Program
(Registration will close on January 19).

This virtual presentation, offered on two different dates (January 20 and February 16), is geared towards anyone interested in joining the LEAD Maryland Fellowship Program's next class, Class XII (2022-2023). Potential applicants can meet virtually to hear from current Fellows, Alumni, and program leaders about their experiences in the Program. There is no charge to attend the event, but registration in advance is required. 

January 21
1:00 PM (EST)
ILAC Event: Leadership in Times of Crisis- Part 2

Agenda and instructions on how to participate will be provided following registration.

February 2
LEAD Maryland Foundation Annual Meeting and Regular Quarterly Board Meeting, held virtually

February 16
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Virtual Information Session on the LEAD Maryland Fellowship Program
(Registration will close on February 15).

February 23 and 25
(exact times TBD)
Special Speaker Presentation

Join Class XI in a special keynote speaker presentation and workshop centered around the topics of civil discourse. As leaders, we need to have conversations with others to maintain and improve our democratic society. How do we listen to each other, engage in conversations and together determine a course of action that helps our communities and governments on all levels? The timing couldn't be better to have this presentation and the conversations that follow.

March 11
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Dr. David Kohl

Back by popular demand, we are excited to announce the return of Dr. David Kohl, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Finance and Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Tech. This is a follow-up to Dr. Kohl's presentation to the LEAD group last spring.
Registration coming soon.


Thank You, again, to everyone who donated to LEAD in 2020. 
We had a nice response and it is appreciated.