In the News

Ninth Group Embarks on Prestigious Regional Leadership Development Journey

LEONARDTOWN, Md. – September 27, 2016 – Thirty classmates from Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties got to know each other and began Leadership Southern Maryland’s nine-month leadership program during a two-day orientation at Holiday Inn Solomons – Conference Center & Marina on September 12 & 13.

Class of 2017 will be the ninth class to step into this world of individual retrospect, leadership philosophy and application, and community collaboration.

To kick-start the program, Eliot Pfanstiehl got participants engaged in self-awareness and team building activities, requiring them to be up, out of their seats, and willing to make quick decisions and answer his on-the-spot questions. Pfanstiehl is the CEO and founder of the Strathmore Hall Foundation, the founding president of Maryland Leadership Workshops, and the program facilitator for Leadership Maryland. He has been an integral part of Leadership Southern Maryland since its inception.

These 11 men and 19 women, all leading professionals from various industries and organizations within Southern Maryland, took part in several complex discussions and group activities geared toward building an atmosphere of openness and respect since classmates will share many learning experiences in coming months.

The group will delve even deeper into the strengths and problems in their respective counties and at the regional level, taking a closer look at critical issues during the Economic & Workforce Development, Education, Defense, Public Safety, Healthcare, Housing & Human Services, Multiculturalism, and Energy & Environment portions of the program.

A reception at Calvert Marine Museum and a second social at the Ruddy Duck allowed more time to interact with each other as well as LSM alumni, board and council members, and sponsors. Class of 2017 were also given an opportunity to speak directly to a panel of county commissioners where they asked questions about strengths, challenges and opportunities the individual counties are facing. The group was treated to a comprehensive, yet comedic economic overview presentation by guest speaker Anirban Basu, chairman and CEO of Sage Policy Group, Inc.

In keeping with this mission, Leadership Southern Maryland established partnerships with eight nonprofit organizations within the Southern Maryland region. This partnership, Leadership Southern Maryland Connections, will aid the participants’ learning by increasing their knowledge of regional issues, lend the nonprofit with extra expertise and manpower to complete a needed project, and allow for team building within a small group. Leadership Southern Maryland Connections will affect change for the organization and region while enabling participants to go beyond simply connecting the dots of regional issues by connecting themselves to the organizations to become a part of lasting change. After a competitive RFP solicitation process, the selected organizations and projects chosen are these:

Center for Children, Agency-wide Marketing Plan
Spring Dell Center, Marketing Plan
St. Mary’s Animal Welfare League, Pet Food Pantry
Greenwell Foundation, Marketing Plan
Community Mediation of St. Mary’s County, Communications Plan
Calvert Hospice, Quality Assurance Improvement Plan
Cedar Lane Senior Living Community, Dining Plan
Rotary Club of Lexington Park, Poverty Analysis of St. Mary’s County

Executive Director Helen Mattingly Wernecke commented this year’s class included the highest number of Charles County participants to date. “They’re an active, vocal, and amazing group, so it will be a great class, no doubt,” Wernecke stated.

LSM Board of Directors President John Felicitas told the group, “This was a great experience for me in 2013 and I encourage you to take the time to get to know each other, listen to each other’s stories, and build lasting relationships with one another.” Leadership Southern Maryland is a nine-month, tuition-based program and is designed and dedicated to building a cadre of informed regional leaders, prepared to address common issues and bring long-term benefit to their neighbors and communities and incorporates a cross-section of the region to include diversity of geographic location, profession, ethnicity and gender.

For more information, please contact the Helen Mattingly Wernecke, Executive Director Leadership Southern Maryland, 240-725-5469 via email or visit


Leadership Southern Maryland is an independent, educational leadership development organization designed to broaden the knowledge base of mid- to senior-level public and private sector executives about the critical issues, challenges, and opportunities facing the region. Leadership Southern Maryland is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.