By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen

Community leaders complete county’s first citizens academy session

Lawrenceville, Ga. – The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners recently recognized 26 community leaders for completing the County’s inaugural Gwinnett 101: Citizens Academy session that launched in April 2015.

Gwinnett 101 is a 10-week crash course in Gwinnett County Government operations aimed at developing and nurturing informed and engaged residents, students and business owners in the county. 
Gwinnett 101 Inaugural Class 440(L to R): Third row, top – Vivian Burell, Tugay Angay, Darel Duliman, Gary Bailey, Craig Newton, Latabia Woodward, Luis Montes, Lisa Burelson, Annie Davis, Kimberly Westbrooks, District 1 Commissioner Jace Brooks, District 3 Commissioner Tommy Hunter, Paul Kelley; Second row – District 2 Commissioner Lynette Howard, District 4 Commissioner John Heard, Nicole Love-Hendrickson, Antonio Molina, Jennifer Hendrickson, Reem Bajes, Tracy Proell; First Row: Michelle West, Victor Dang, Leroy Sewell, Yanira Camacho, Sharon Sequeira, Brenda Lopez, Michelle LaLand, Meghna Bharucha, Chairman Charlotte Nash, Italia Metts, Shamika Battle-Packer; Not pictured: Gerri Smith

Class members spent Thursday evenings with county government leaders learning the ins and outs of their local government from a first-person perspective. The weekly sessions included an interactive history lesson conducted by Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage staff, an overview of the County’s budget process from Financial Services, the Tax Assessor and the Tax Commissioner, and a community planning session facilitated by Planning and Development. 

In addition, class members toured the county’s F. Wayne Hill Water Resources Center, the County’s state-of-the-art wastewater treatment center, and the Traffic Control Center where staff members monitor busy intersections and corridors throughout the county and posts real-time traffic information on the website for motorists. Participants also performed a mock trial led by judges and participated in demonstrations led by the Fire and Emergency Services, Police, and Community Services departments.

“I am proud of the class members who chose to spend their personal time to take part in the academy and learn more about their county government,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlotte Nash. “This program gives residents an opportunity to see first-hand how County government operates each and every day and provides an avenue to become more involved in their community.” 

Members of the inaugural class are: Tugay Angay, Gary Bailey, Reem Bajes, Shamika Battle-Packer, Meghna Bharucha, Lisa Burleson, Vivian Burrell, Yanira Camacho, Victor Dang, Annie Davis, Darel Duliman, Jennifer Hendrickson, Paul Kelley, Michelle LaLand, Brenda Lopez-Romero, Italia Metts, Antonio Molina, Luis Montes, Craig Newton, Tracy Proell, Sharon Sequeira, Leroy Sewell, Gerri Smith, Michelle West, Kimberly Westbrooks and Latabia Woodward.

“These individuals were hand-selected to participate in the pilot session to give us constructive feedback on each of the classes to help us refine the bi-annual program,” said Community Outreach Director Nicole Love Hendrickson. “One of our goals for this academy is to improve the quality and quantity of civic participation by residents with an emphasis on underrepresented communities in local government, so we set out to select leaders from the many multicultural groups in Gwinnett County.”

Class member Jennifer Hendrickson said, “The citizens academy is not only engaging and informative, it helps create a sense of ownership to our community and builds leaders for future volunteer positions within our government. I gained invaluable information and feel very proud to live in Gwinnett.”

Gwinnett County is accepting applications for the fall session, which begins Sept.10. Classes will be held Thursday evenings from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at various locations. Interested applicants must be at least 18 years old, a resident and/or business owner in Gwinnett or student at a Gwinnett college or university. Applications are available at www.gwinnett101.com and must be received by Friday, July 31 in order to participate in the fall session.