As Rachel Dennis and Debbie Grass begin their studies in Leadership Hancock County this fall, they enjoy a distinction none of their classmates can claim: They are winners of the Nancy King Scholarship, which pays most of their tuition to attend the class.
Dennis is the new victim’s advocate in Hancock County for Alternatives Inc., which provides services for victims of domestic violence. Grass is a teacher at Eastern Hancock High School, where she helps oversee the Royal Leadership Academy for students.
The scholarship is in honor of one of the founding members of Leadership Hancock County. King, who died in 2010, helped establish the scholarship to help deserving applicants enroll in the eight-month leadership academy. King was a longtime extension educator who was active in many community organizations. She is credited with helping establish Leadership Hancock County in 1996.
Dennis and Grass, in essays that accompanied their applications for the 2016-17 class, said they are eager to hone their leadership abilities. Both already occupy leadership positions, and they said it was important to expand their knowledge of leadership qualities.
“Along with networking and meeting new people, I would like to learn more about Greenfield and the community,” wrote Dennis, who recently replaced longtime victim advocate Kelly Buzan as Alternatives Inc.’s representative in Hancock County. “I am new to Hancock County and could benefit from learning about other leaders and their organizations within the community.”
Dennis added: “In attending the Leadership Hancock County classes, I hope to strengthen my existing skill set while adding more to my leadership tool kit.”
Grass, who teaches business courses at EH, recently gave up sponsorship of two student groups at the school. “I thought it was time to ‘pass the torch’ to younger teachers,” she wrote. “Because I have been so active in our school, my principal (Dave Pfaff) asked me, ‘So, where are you going to get involved next?’ I told him I wasn’t sure, but I would keep my eyes and ears open because I knew an opportunity would come along. I think this is one of those opportunities.”
Grass and Dennis are among 25 emerging leaders who are beginning their studies this fall. They will attend day-long leadership seminars one full day a month for the next seven months and participate in a community project.