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Leadership Hagerstown gets new leader

August 02, 2004|by RYAN C. TUCK

ryant@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Mary Ann Burke came to Leadership Hagerstown in 1991 as an applicant and to represent the Maryland Symphony Orchestra Guild. Now, she'll be pulling the strings as the organization's new director.

Effective Aug. 1, Burke, who has lived with her husband and two sons in Hagerstown for more than 17 years, will become the third director of Leadership Hagerstown since its creation in 1987.

Leadership Hagerstown was founded as a means "to coordinate new leadership in the community," as an "opportunity for networking" and to "instill a spirit of volunteerism," Burke said.

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Between 25 and 30 participants are selected annually for the program that requires its members to first attend a two-day retreat and then a series of monthly meetings that focus on important issues facing community leaders, Burke said.

County history, the economy, government, human services, education, quality of life and the arts are some of the areas of community interest on which the program members focus, Burke said.

Participants are chosen based on their involvement with the areas of community interest identified in the program, Burke said.

"It's been a very successful program," she said. "We have people from all walks of life ... all professions here. We've built a very strong foundation."

Burke said her goal is to build upon that foundation.

"As a participant, I got to know people and to contribute to the community and they likewise," she said. "This is a wonderful opportunity to be able to be part of the community."

After she completed the program in 1992, Burke said she became active in United Way, Leadership Hagerstown alumni programs, the Washington County Free Library, Hagerstown Sunrise-Rotary and continued to be active in the symphony orchestra.

"We want to cultivate their leadership skills and provide a network to interact with other community leaders," she said.

Burke was selected as the group's third director after an application process coordinated by the group's board of trustees.

"I'm honored," she said. "I'm happy and excited to be working with such a devoted group."

Burke also works at the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce and said she sees her new position as being beneficial to both groups.

Charles Stroh founded Leadership Hagerstown in association with the Chamber and served until 2000, when he was replaced by Vincent "Woody" Spong.

More than 300 participants from more than 50 organizations have graduated from the program since its creation.

Burke is a graduate of Nazareth College in Richmond, Va., and studied business administration at Georgetown University. Her husband, Emmett, was a member of the first graduating class.

Spong said he's confident that Burke will continue the success of the organization.

"She's hitting the ground running," he said. "She's going to be fine, better than fine."

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