Reynolds Named Executive Director of Madison County Leadership Academy | Local News

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ANDERSON – Jesse Reynolds Jr. sees a lot of potential in Anderson County and Madison County.

And as the new executive director of the Leadership Academy of Madison County, the Anderson native hopes to realize much of that potential.

“I want to be part of the puzzle that keeps Anderson moving forward.”

Son of mechanical worker Jesse Reynolds and daycare owner Elaine Williams Peel, Reynolds, 32, learned the value of hard work by starting LJ’s Lawn Care business at age 9. He also has a stepfather, David Peel, who works in the manufacturing sector.

“Most of my time at Anderson was either mowing the grass, the church or the basketball,” said the former Highland High School graduate. “I have met a lot of people doing this kind of work. “

While growing up in Anderson, Reynolds was also heavily involved with the New Hope Methodist Church, eventually switching to Ark of Deliverance.

After high school, where he played basketball, ran track, and walked in the band, Reynolds entered Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., To major in business management with a minor in accounting.

“At the time, I was developing business ideas and thought that further training in business would improve my knowledge of the industry.

After college, Reynolds worked in financial services with Prudential, Royal United Mortgage and JP Morgan Chase Bank. More recently, however, he served as the Director of Community Relations for the Lawrence Township Trustee in Marion County.

Although he, his wife Rashai, also from Anderson, and their children, Princeton and Chandler, still live in Lawrence, they are in the process of returning.

“We want our kids to kind of grow up around their grandparents,” he said. “That’s how I grew up, around my grandparents.

It may seem like a departure from his past professional experience, Reynolds said, but there are parallels to his new role, including that of leading from a place of duty.

“In any leadership capacity you have to believe in this mission, you have to be ready to serve in this mission and to uplift the people around me so that they can flourish through this light and through this. lens, that’s how I plan to lead here. “Said Reynolds.” You are communicating here in LA a vision for how servant leadership can be effective in the community. “

Reynolds said he was honored to be the first African American appointed to the position of executive director of the Leadership Academy.

“I don’t feel overwhelmed because when you reach a certain level in life there will always be something first to be,” he said. “If you set goals for yourself and achieve those goals, you may be the first to serve. It’s uplifting through a community that looks like me, talks like me and walks like me.

As the first African American, Reynolds said, he wants to honor those who led the way.

“There are a lot of bricks that were laid here before me to get here,” he said. “There are a lot of people like me. I’m not the only one. Many of us have the skills and mindset that allow us to behave with dignity and pride. “

But Reynolds stresses that his responsibilities span all of Madison County and not just certain areas or types of people, and he expects to be visible when managing existing relationships while creating new ones through community events, emails and phone calls.

“There is already a great foundation built by my predecessors to reach other parts of the county,” he said.

LAMC’s board chair, Stephanie Moran, said in a prepared statement that she believes Reynolds will lead the organization into a new era of leadership development.

“It brings vision by building on the strengths of past programs and creating innovative elements for future programs,” she said. “It will help the organization fill in the gaps in opportunities for all stakeholders and organizations that wish to be served by leadership development. “

Kim Townsend, executive director of the Anderson Housing Authority and chair of the Race, Equity and Inclusion working group, followed in her father’s footsteps in 2001 and completed the Leadership Academy program,

Although Townsend has yet to meet Reynolds in person, her appointment is slow in coming, she said. Over the years, she added, she felt that the Leadership Academy could use more diversity in its membership and program.

“They put the action behind what they’ve strategized about,” she said. “I was glad they did because I know they’ve been working on diversity for a long time. It takes a while to figure out how to do this.

Reynolds’ appointment to this high-level position is a testament to not only a visible broadening of the vision for the Leadership Academy, but also growth in the areas of race, equity and inclusion at Anderson in its whole, Townsend said.

“Having said that there are sectors that are serious about (being) inclusive and being more diverse.”

With Reynolds’ appointment, the Leadership Academy is also setting an example that other businesses and organizations are likely to follow, Townsend said.

“It’s the learning platform for leadership,” she said.


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