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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Leadership N.C. comes to Robeson County

If you want to know something about leadership, ask a leader.

That’s what Leadership North Carolina did December 8 in a seminar at UNC Pembroke’s Regional Center when it profiled Roger Oxendine, a county commissioner, chair of the Lumbee River Electric Membership Cooperative (LREMC) board of trustees and a UNCP trustee.

Roger Oxendine

Roger Oxendine

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Leadership North Carolina is the leading training institute of leaders in the state. It brought its current class to Robeson County for a three-day economic development program, said its President Brian Etheridge.

“We focus on different issue areas and hold our sessions across the state,” Etheridge said. “We are pleased to be in Robeson County and concentrating on economic development.”

A successful agri-businessman with diverse farm operations in south Robeson County, Oxendine talked about business leadership and politics in a tri-racial county.

“A lot of you have never worked in a tri-racial setting; it’s unique and to be a leader in this county is unique,” Oxendine said. “To lead all people – and that is what you must do – is a challenge.

“We have a lot of managers in this county; I think of myself as a leader,” he said. “To be a leader, you must do what is right and fair and not hide things. At the end of the day, it will work out and you will sleep at night.”

Oxendine chaired UNCP’s board when Chancellor Allen C. Meadors was hired. It was the right thing to do, he said.

“My stance was to get the best person for the job,” Oxendine said. “We needed someone with a vision for growth. He was the best man for the job, and it’s worked out well.”

Oxendine told the audience of about 100 that he has worked to improve his personal leadership skills, and the Good Book has helped

“On the farm, I am part of a team,” he said. “Otherwise, when I come to an event like this, nothing will get done while I’m away.

“I had a temper at one time,” Oxendine said. “I decided to become a better Christian. Being involved in my church has changed me.”

Balancing family, farm and political life is not easy he said, but he has a firm rule.

“It’s family first,” Oxendine said. “The other night I had a meeting and my daughter had a basketball game. I went to the game; there will be other meetings.”

Oxendine is working hard with Lumbee River EMC and the County Board of Commissioners to improve the lives of Robesonians through economic development.

“As a county commissioner, my number one priority is to bring jobs to this county,” he said. “The state and the county commissioners must learn to entice industry to return to rural areas. It’s a challenge.”

COMtech, home to UNCP’s Regional Center, is a joint county, EMC and private economic development project.

“It’s got a good start, and we are sticking to our plan to bring good-paying technology jobs here,” Oxendine said. “I love this county and I love the people.”

A FIRST FOR COUNTY

Having Leadership North Carolina in Robeson County was a first for the county, said Dr. Eric Dent, dean of UNCP’s School of Business and a graduate of the institute.

“We were very pleased to host their session here,” Dr. Dent said. “They brought 50 leaders from across North Carolina here to learn more about Robeson County and economic development.”

Leadership North Carolina is a non-partisan, non-profit organization, which identifies leaders in the state and enhances their leadership skills through discussions with top officials of the state, professionals in the areas, field trips and experiential activities. The program cultivates a network of citizens with diverse backgrounds and experiences who represent the many geographic areas of the State and who are committed to volunteer service.

The December 6 – 8 session included workshops and tours at Southeastern Regional Medical Center, Graphic Packaging International and UNCP, including a powwow at the Native American Resource Center and a reception at the Chancellor’s Residence.

UNCP has several connections to Leadership North Carolina with six graduates on campus, including Dr. Dent; Lorna Ricotta, director of corporate and foundations relations; Sylvia Pate, director of the Regional Center; Dr. Diane Jones, vice chancellor for Student Affairs; Jackie Clark, vice chancellor for Enrollment Management and Dr. Alfred Bryant, an education professor.

Robeson County has other connections to this distinguished organization. Local sponsors include: UNCP, Native Angels Home Healthcare and Hospice, Lumbee Guaranty Bank, Lumber River Electric Membership Cooperative, Robeson Community College, the Robeson County Office of Economic Development, the Black Water Grille and Southeastern Regional Medical Center.

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