ANDERSON – The timing was right for Pam Shoot.

The Leadership Academy of Madison County’s program director for 25 years, Shoot will retire from her role in June to pursue volunteer opportunities and spend more time with her family, including her two granddaughters.

“I just really felt like it was time,” Shoot said. “I’ve been involved with the Leadership Academy of Madison County for 25 years, and it’s just time for new ideas, new blood, new passion. I still love what I do, and I didn’t come to this decision easily.”

Shoot oversaw the leadership academy’s growth from an initial class of 22 youth in 1997 to a comprehensive educational and leadership program that serves the county’s business community with annual retreats and activities designed to help its participants recognize service opportunities and build personal visions.

“We have leadership academies that call us from around the state to ask us how we got it started,” says Carrie Bale, the Leadership Academy’s executive director. “When people are starting a youth program, they call Pam. That whole basis of a community-based leadership program, I really credit Pam for building those relationships that have sustained it and helped it thrive. I haven’t seen anyone else around the state who can do it like Pam can do it.”

Since 1981, more than 1,700 people have graduated from the program, honing their skills through community service, mentorship opportunities and other services provided by the academy. It’s been a labor of love for Shoot, who says the relationships she’s built with the members of each class remain unique and special to her, even years later.

“That will be the hardest part (of leaving),” she said, “not having that opportunity for 72 new people every year to become my new best friends.”

The academy has begun a search for a new program director and is accepting applications through the end of January. Bale said the academy hopes to have the new person in place within two months. Shoot’s last day with the academy is June 30.

“They will continue to do great things,” Shoot said. “I’m excited for what’s ahead for them.”

Follow Andy Knight on Twitter @Andrew_J_Knight, or call 765-640-4809.

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