More than 30 business owners and employees graduated from Leadership Livingston during a two-hour ceremony June 11 at Forrest Grove Plantation in Denham Springs.

Leadership Livingston is a program that began two years ago to empower leaders, aid the community and teach participants about the community in which they live and work.

“I see a parish united and working together to make better communities in which we live, work and play,” said graduate Sybil Cotten, of Our Lady of the Lake.

The participants were divided into groups of three, and each developed a project to help those in the community. Participants chose to help Women Outreaching Women create a program to help mentor eighth-grade students in the parish and assist the Livingston Activity Center.

“In speaking before a group of teenagers, I wondered if they would receive the message we were trying to impart,” graduate Toni Johnson said. “I was encouraged to stick with it and if only one child hears the message, we could make a difference. The leadership program gave me the opportunity to make a difference.”

The youths, however, weren’t the only ones who may have learned a lesson from the leadership class. Several graduates praised the program for helping them become better leaders.

“I have developed leadership skills as a result of this program,” graduate Donna Carlisle Erdy said. “I have learned to listen and understand the different needs of society and how to work together as a team.”

The Livingston Leadership Class of 2014 graduates are attorney Brian Abels, of Boyer, Hebert, Abels & Angelle; Kristie Acosta, account executive for World Pay US Inc.; Blair Alexander, relationship banker, Whitney Bank; Alvin Callais, owner of Alvin Callais CPA LLC; Chad Calongne, CEO of Rotolo’s; Cotten, administrator, Our Lady of the Lake, RMC; McHugh David Jr., administrative assistant, The Livingston Parish News; Abigail DePino, vice president, LEDC; Tammy Dickerson, director of critical care, Ochsner Medical Center; Erdey, community relations, Denham Springs Marshal; Leesha Gleber, advertising director, The Livingston Parish News; Ludrick Hidalgo, commercial lender, First Guaranty Bank; Sgt. Gene Higginbotham, DARE Program, Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office; Mike Hughes, chief of staff, Livingston Parish President’s Office; Johnson, member services representative, DEMCO; Michael Joyce, owner/publisher, Go! Pages of South Louisiana; Phillip Kern, vice president of architecture, Labarre Associates; Lynn King, president and founder, Livingston Parish Veterans Association; Stephanie Kropog, physicians service director, North Oaks Health System; Kathy Maust, real estate consultant, Supreme LLC; Margot May, associate publisher, Arceneaux Communications LLC; Curtis “Curt” Nickels, agent, Farm Bureau; Buddy Mincey Jr., Nelson Service/Livingston Parish School Board; Heather Pitarro, regional director, North Oaks Health System; Michael Poche, FSA II, Whitney Bank; Mike Sanders, sales service, Skid Marks Tires & Auto Service; Thomas “Trey” Sanders III, manager, Hannis T. Bourgeois LLP CPAs; Chief Criminal Deputy Joe Shumate, Denham Springs Marshal; Jonathan “JT” Taylor, assistant director, Livingston Convention & Visitors Bureau; Darrelyn Wilson, editor and co-owner, Livingston Alive! Magazine; and Ann Wimberly, supervisor, Livingston Parish Clerk of Court.