Union County CEO Program Begins 2016-2017 School Year With Orientation


Union County CEO Program Begins 2016-2017 School Year With Orientation


Left to Right - Shad Turner - Erin Smith - Aaron Lence - Julian Smith - Dillon Harris - Jessica GlascoANNA—The Union County CEO Program began its second year with an orientation event hosted by Anna-Jonesboro National Bank at their Anna facility on Leigh Avenue.  Students Erin Dillow of Shawnee Hills Christian Academy, Jessica Glasco of A-J High School, Dillon Harris of A-J High School, Aaron Lence of A-J High School, Julian Smith of A-J High School and Shad Turner of A-J High School introduced themselves to parents and board members for the first time as new members of the program.

Parents and StudentsCEO—short for Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities—began several years ago in Effingham County and has since spread to multiple counties throughout the state, including Union.  Students receive two hours of high school credit but instead of being taught in a traditional classroom by teachers, students learn from local business owners and meet every morning in local businesses.

“We are so pleased to be launching this second year of the program with such eager young people.  They know the expectations and are willing to do their very best to get the most out of every opportunity,” explained Facilitator Evelyn Bailey.  “We also look forward to calling upon our business community again to help expose the students to the ins and outs of the business world, the government and the community.”

Stephanie Cox of A-J National presents messenger bags to the class 2Program chairman and IT consultant Rollie Hawk, vice chairman and Union County treasurer Darren Bailey, treasurer and owner of Whitney Accounting Mark Chamness and other board members State Farm agent Bill Ecker, Cobden High School principal Crystal Housman, executive director of the Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau Cindy Cain, owner of Heartland Gifts Mindy Carter and retired teacher Steve Haldeman led the event by addressing students and parents on the standards of the CEO program as well as answering questions from those in attendance.

“The standards for this program are higher than probably anything you’ve been involved with.  This isn’t a government program paid for with tax dollars.  People like those of us in this room choose to invest thousands of dollars every year just to give young people like you the opportunity to learn things you won’t learn anywhere else,” explained Hawk.  “We know you won’t let us down.”

Stephanie Cox of Anna-Jonesboro National Bank was on hand to present the students with a gift from the bank: messenger bags featuring the CEO logo.

“We are grateful for the Anna-Jonesboro National Bank and Stephanie Cox for hosting our 2017 CEO Orientation,” said Facilitator Evelyn Bailey.  “The students really appreciated receiving their messenger bags and we know they will be put to good use.”

Though the primary focus of the program is on business and entrepreneurship, Chairman Rollie Hawk sees this as a long term solution for many regional issues.

“There’s a real leadership void in southern Illinois.  We’ve all seen it.  Whether it’s in our business community, civic organizations, our churches or local government, there are plenty of people willing to point out the problems but very few willing to step up and lead us to solutions,” says Hawk.  “The CEO program is where we start developing tomorrow’s leaders today.”

Union County CEO is funded entirely by investments from individuals, businesses and organizations.  More information about the program can be found at UnionCountyCEO.com or by contacting Chairman Rollie Hawk at rhawk@unioncountyceo.com or (618) 925-2470.