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Gathering for graduation are members of the 2021 Leadership Ascension class, front row from left, Heather Bagala, Talene Kaltakjian, Lauren Pellegrini, Monika Arnold, Tia Starr, Obie Aguillera-Stephen, Bronier Boyce, Laeisha Barnes, Shontel Stewart, Summer Meyers, Sarah Melancon and Danielle Espinal and second row, Tré Nelson, Amanda Broussard, Evan Mativi, Jacob Shoemake, Mike Ryland, Darby Lambert, Eric Kallio, Rachael Lambert, Sit Wong, Melvin Boudreaux and Alex Aydell and Barker Dirmann, Leadership Ascension facilitator. 

Leadership Ascension, a program of the Ascension Chamber of Commerce, graduated its 26th Leadership Class on June 24 at the Clarion Inn & Conference Center.

There were 27 participants in this year’s Leadership Class, and each member was put on a team with the task of researching and implementing a project that would positively affect the Ascension Community.

This year’s projects included Dream Team; a project that raised the funding necessary to complete the second phase of construction for the all-abilities baseball field in Gonzales; Play. Invest. Grow. Sorrento. (P.I.G.S.) are working with the Town of Sorrento to construct a pavilion in the town’s new community park; Prairie Dogs in partnership with the Ascension Parish Parks and Recreation Department designed and constructed the first dog park in the Prairieville area; and Top Gun Aviation hosted an aviation expo raising awareness for opportunities in the aviation industry and also raised funds that will allow Ascension public schools to introduce the Fly To Learn Program to all nine middle schools in the parish.

The Top Gun Aviation was chosen as this year’s winner. Winning team members included Alex Aydell, Heather Bagala, Amanda Broussard, Talene Kaltakjian, Sarah Melancon, Tré Nelson and Mike Ryland.

The class included Obie Aguillera-Stephen, Ascension Chamber of Commerce; Monika Arnold, Eatel; Alex Aydell, Westlake Chemical; Heather Bagala, Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office; Laeisha Barnes, Our Lady of the Lake Ascension; Chris Batty, BASF; Melvin Boudreaux, Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office; Bronier Boyce, Coldwell Banker One; Amanda Broussard, BASF; Charlie Chesterfield, Shell Chemical; Michael Dunne, BASF; Danielle Espinal, Ochsner Health; David Hebert, Grace Hebert Curtis Architecture; Eric Kallio, Louisiana Military Department; Talene Kaltakjian, GSA Consulting Engineers; Darby Lambert, Ascension public schools; Rachael Lambert, Ascension Specialty Advertising; Evan Mativi, OneSource EHS; Sarah Melancon, Methanex; Summer Meyers, Ascension Parish Clerk of Court; Tré Nelson, Baton Rouge General Medical Center; Lauren Pellegrini, Shell Chemical; Mike Ryland, city of Gonzales; Jacob Shoemake, Westlake Chemical; Tia Starr, Our Lady of the Lake Ascension; Shontel Stewart, BASF; and Sit Wong, Domain Architecture.

The 2021 Leadership Class, facilitated by chamber President and CEO Barker Dirmann, contributes the program’s success to the many sponsors and support committees who volunteer their time and resources. The chamber those companies, groups and people.

Leadership Ascension started in 1996 with the mission of preparing emerging community leaders for leadership positions in local government and business. The 10-month program accepts students by application only and offers team-building and educational sessions covering topics such as economic development, health care, project management training and cultural diversity. To learn more about Leadership Ascension, visit www.ascensionchamber.com or call (225) 647-7487.