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2012 News Releases

Company donates $30,000 to leadership institute at Longwood

February 14, 2012

Longwood alumnus Drew Hudson (left), president and CEO of The Choice Inc., presents a ceremonial check for $30,000 to the SNVC Institute for Leadership and Innovation, accepted by Dr. Paul Barrett, dean of the College of Business & Economics.
Longwood alumnus Drew Hudson (left), president and CEO of The Choice Inc., presents a ceremonial check for $30,000 to the SNVC Institute for Leadership and Innovation, accepted by Dr. Paul Barrett, dean of the College of Business & Economics.

A company led by a Longwood University alumnus has donated $30,000 to the SNVC Institute for Leadership and Innovation, based in Longwood's College of Business & Economics, to implement a leadership development training program in a Virginia elementary school.

The gift from The Choice Inc., a staffing company headquartered in Washington, D.C., whose president and CEO is Drew Hudson, a 1990 graduate, will be used to implement The Leader in Me, which is for students in pre-kindergarten through grade six and is based on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Hudson hopes the program will be implemented in a school in Culpeper, his hometown. The gift is part of the SNVC Institute's campaign to raise $100,000 for The Leader in Me.

"In an era of focus on SOLs, gifted and talented students, and AP and IB programs, it is a pleasure to be a part of a program such as The Leader in Me," said Hudson, a former president of the Longwood Alumni Association. "We at The Choice were eager to effect change with a younger group of students, and The Leader in Me ties in well to our commitment to develop citizen leaders. Programs such as this don't get budget priority in these economic times, so we wanted to step up as citizen leaders and fill the gap. I look forward to tracking the long-term effects of the program as we engage young students to harness these great skills and apply them in a purposeful adult life."

The Leader in Me is officially a "process for schoolwide transformation that is designed to enhance students' life skills and workforce readiness." It was launched in 1999 by the principal of an underachieving charter school in Raleigh, N.C., who, after undergoing 7 Habits training and working with Dr. Stephen R. Covey, who pioneered the training, decided to develop a model for elementary schools. It takes about three years to fully implement the program in a school, and all staff who come into contact with students have to first be trained. It is being implemented in 696 schools and has been fully implemented in 22 schools around the world, said Kelly Kennedy, a 2005 Longwood graduate who is a Richmond-based client partner for FranklinCovey, the leadership development company that sponsors 7 Habits training.

The program has been successful, said Dr. Paul Barrett, dean of the College of Business & Economics. "People who have tried it report that it has had a tremendous effect on these kids," he said. "All the good numbers, for things such as grades and retention, go up, and all the bad numbers, for things like pushing and shoving, go down. The financial crisis in this country was caused by a breakdown in ethics, and the 7 Habits is about values, what FranklinCovey calls the timeless principles."

The most recent Executive-in-Residence in the College of Business & Economics, Gail W. Johnson, president and CEO of Rainbow Station, a Richmond-based franchise of preschools, has implemented the program in her schools, after having her staff trained. In her talk Jan. 31, some 26 of her students joined her on stage to discuss what the program has meant for them.

Hudson, who lives in Annapolis, Md., with his wife, Risa Paquin Hudson, also a 1990 Longwood graduate and vice president of The Choice, is a longtime friend of his alma mater. "I'm all about Longwood," he said. "Outside of my family and business, my hobby is Longwood."

Hudson also has aided the SNVC Institute by purchasing, then gutting and rehabilitating, a building in downtown Culpeper where, even though it is separate from the SNVC Institute, 7 Habits training will be held in a retreat-type setting, in addition to The Choice doing other work for its clients. The site, called The Choice Citizen Leadership Institute, will be used for three-day sessions - two days of 7 Habits training followed by a day of customized brainstorming to solve specific problems faced by a nonprofit organization or company. The site, which will open in March, has extensive technology including more than a mile of cabling, state-of-the-art video and audio equipment, and the ability to do webinars and webcasting.

The SNVC Institute for Leadership and Innovation (originally the SNVC Institute for Leadership Values), established in April 2010, is a partnership among Longwood; SNVC, a Fairfax-based information technology company; and FranklinCovey. It was named and sponsored by Tom DeWitt '80, president and CEO of SNVC.

"The mission of the Institute, which is campuswide even though it's based in the business school, is to develop citizen leaders everywhere," Barrett said. "The training is about leadership and leadership values."

Some 261 people, of whom 154 are from Longwood, have participated in five on-campus sessions of what is called the 7 Habits Signature Training Program since May 2010. The SNVC Institute also has offered 7 Habits training at SNVC's main office in Fairfax as well as its office in Sierra Vista, Ariz., and is willing to offer the two-day training at the workplaces of, and other sites chosen by, companies and organizations. The training is done by 10 certified facilitators who were trained at Longwood in January 2010. 7 Habits training is mandatory for students in the College of  Business & Economics, has been incorporated into many Longwood Seminar classes and will again be offered this summer at the Virginia Girls State program held on campus, where it was offered for the first time last year.