Matern Staffing is excited to feature Jenna Hudspeth, as she reflects on her experience during the Chamber of Commerce Leadership Fredericksburg Program. Jenna participated in Leadership Fredericksburg, a nine-month program dedicated to leadership, personal and professional growth, and helping build a stronger community in the Fredericksburg area. On May 20, 2022, Fredericksburg Leadership celebrated the 15th graduating class as 28 leaders from various businesses and organizations completed the program. Jenna joins fellow Matern colleagues, Teresa West and Ginni Mastin who are previous graduates of Fredericksburg Leadership.
After Teresa and Ginni recommended Fredericksburg Leadership to their colleagues, Jenna applied with the intention to further her professional career and improve her leadership skills. Not only did she strengthen her leadership and teamwork skills, but she also developed skills such as adaptability, public speaking, and vulnerability. Jenna continues to share the importance of professional development, self-growth, kindness, and leadership in the workplace.
The Feeling of Accomplishment
Going into the program, Jenna didn’t know what to expect, but she was nervous. According to Jenna, “Participating in a leadership program was something I normally wouldn’t do.” In the beginning of Leadership, she was uncomfortable outside of her bubble when opening herself up to her classmates. Jenna says, “I learned the importance of goal setting and was challenged with being vulnerable. You must be truly honest with yourself and others. It can be scary, but in an encouraging environment I was able to dig deep and figure out my ‘why’. I had to ask myself why I do things in life and what my core values are.”
When reflecting on her core values, the importance of education stood out to her. She considered how she always had trouble with school and wanted to get a degree. She says, “Going to Germanna Community College to get my associate’s degree became my personal goal during leadership. The program gave me encouragement to believe in myself and figure out what is important to me. I learned that setting goals gives me a sense of accomplishment.” Proud of herself for creating a plan for her future, Jenna took goal setting one step further by sharing her plans with the group.
Vulnerability is Good Thing
Throughout the program, they emphasized the importance of embracing vulnerability. Little did Jenna know the growth and accomplishments that were in store for her.
During the final leadership meeting, the entire class shared their personal stories and what they learned from the program. Jenna says, “I explained my story of not knowing what to expect going into leadership. I wasn’t excited or motivated to start, but I learned to push myself out of my comfort zone and set goals. Then, I shared how Leadership inspired me to enroll in Germanna for the Fall of 2022 because education is something I value.”
Sharing her story about how leadership encouraged her to enroll in Germanna inspired other classmates. Though Jenna felt uncomfortable at first, she found a new confidence when she was vulnerable. She realized some of her classmates looked up to her and asked her for advice. Her vulnerability made others feel supported and safe to open up as well. She learned that vulnerability not only includes being honest with yourself, but also opening up to others around you. Taking risks, being vulnerable, and going out of your comfort zone can open doors of opportunities.
A New Door of Opportunity
Jenna’s story about going back to school at Germanna unknowingly grabbed the attention of two classmates who work at Germanna. After listening to Jenna’s story, they offered Jenna a scholarship to attend Germanna Community College and fulfill her goal of getting her associate’s degree. She recalls the moment saying, “Before I shared my story in front of the class, I didn’t know the background of any of my classmates. By coincidence, two people in the room worked at Germanna, heard my story, and wanted to help. It was a huge surprise to receive a scholarship. I’m so grateful to my classmates and Leadership Fredericksburg for all their help.”
Regardless of receiving a scholarship, she was determined to attend Germanna; however, the scholarship pushed her one step closer. You never know who might walk through the door and it is important to put yourself out there. It is also important to use every opportunity you have to make new connections and build relationships.
This program is not only a leadership journey, but also an opportunity to network. The Leadership Fredericksburg program encourages building relationships beyond the classroom. Guest speakers, mentors, and anyone who walks through the Chamber of Commerce doors is a networking opportunity. When asked what advice she wants to give to anyone considering applying to the program she says, “Have an open-mind because you never know what you can get out of this program. Everyone’s experience is different. Even if I didn’t receive a scholarship, I met a lot of amazing people. This program is really good for networking and sharing your story.” Leadership Fredericksburg brings together a diverse group of people to talk about their experience in life and in the business industry.
Taking the Lead
With fresh confidence, Jenna felt proud of her outcome as a fellow in the program. Leadership Fredericksburg taught her the benefits of professional development and she even surprised herself throughout the process. In the office, Jenna is hardworking, organized, and a team player, but she doesn’t regard herself as an outspoken leader. Her leadership ability grew the greatest near the end of the program when she tested it the most.
She explains, “The final group project was hard. You have to organize a group of people who are busy and have full time jobs on top of the program.” Though at first difficult, she surprised herself by stepping up to the challenge and taking initiative to lead.
She notes, “I ended up being the leader of the group. I scheduled our meeting times, wrote follow-up emails, and assigned roles to complete the project. I wasn’t expecting that because I thought I was the last person that would do something like that. Usually, I am the one who is told what to do and I do it.” Jenna surprised herself as she is more comfortable following, while letting others lead. By taking a risk, Jenna gained a new perspective as a leader. She demonstrated the key components of leadership – effective communication, bravery, active listening, organization, and determination.
The Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce provides many opportunities for professionals to grow their business and careers, but they also make it easy for anyone to get started. Check out the program overview page on their website to find more information about how you can further your career.