Summit seeks to inspire Dinwiddie residents to ‘Lead Well’

By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: January 22, 2020 | 10:30 a.m.

Over 200 people registered for county’s first-ever ‘Lead Well’ leadership summit.

DINWIDDIE – “If only you knew.”

Those four words can create an instant sense of curiosity and a desire to know more in the minds of those who hear them and, for the organizers of Dinwiddie County’s first-ever Lead Well Summit, that is exactly the reaction they want from hundreds of attendees next week, helping them transform information into action in the community.

Set for Saturday, Feb. 1 at Dinwiddie High School, running from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the summit seeks to bring together people from all walks of life in the county, from county officials, business leaders, the faith-based community, schools, and residents who desire to get involved in their community for a morning of engaging sessions geared at bringing key information about the county to the surface and using that data to spark a dialogue about how the community can collectively tackle needs, while also providing an avenue for those who may want to get involved in a cause that matters to them but isn’t sure where to begin.

The summit is one of several initiatives born out of Dinwiddie County’s resource council, which is an advisory board aimed at working to identify needs in the community and ensuring those entities who can provide a resource, including ones outside of the county government, such as nonprofits and churches, are able to actually interface with those in need.

Since its formation several years ago, the resource council helped spearhead the creation of the Live Well Expo, which is a morning-side event aimed at connecting residents with health-related resources, such as medical screenings, vaccinations, and information on healthy living.

As the resource council’s efforts expanded, a partnership between Dinwiddie County Public Schools and the county saw the conceptualization of the county’s faith-based advisory committee, who have since been behind the creation of the annual school supplies distribution to the county’s Pre-K and kindergarten students and now, the Lead Well Summit.

Throughout the months of planning for the event, the summit’s organizational committee, made up of a cross-section of Dinwiddie stakeholders, ranging from school leaders, to county representatives, to members of Dinwiddie’s diverse faith-based community, along with input from business owners and others in the county, the goal of next week’s event was to not only inspire those who already serve as leaders in the community, but to also remind attendees and those interested in coming that leaders come from all walks of life and anyone can serve.

“The truth of the matter is, everyone is a leader. The question is what are you leading,” Rev. John Phillips, pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church and president of United Churches of Dinwiddie County and Vicinity, said. “Even if you say I am a leader at home, you are still leading. If you are in a business office, you are leading so everyone is truly a leader if you define it as someone who is creating guidance.”

He continued, “Mom, dad, uncle, grandmother. You may not be someone who holds a title in society but you are a leader,” with fellow pastor Mark Hughes of West End Baptist Church drawing parallels to the business world and the individual roles that work collectively for the success of the business.

“In business, you have CEOs and you have the folks who make sure the floors are vacuumed and the containers are emptied in the evening,” Hughes said. “If the one that is supposedly on the lower end of the totem pole doesn’t lead well in what they are doing, the meeting the CEO has the next day trying to entice people to come on board, they will notice that so, all of us have a part in leading in whatever we have been called to do.”

While next week’s leadership summit will likely feature hundreds of attendees from a myriad of backgrounds, denoted by special ribbons on their name badge, they all will have one ribbon in common, one that reads “Community.” For organizers, even though there will be a diverse list of attendees, everyone will be working as a collective, a community, to help Dinwiddie continue to grow in positive ways.

“It is a visual reminder for participants that there is more that unites us than not,” Dinwiddie County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kari Weston, a leader in local education, shared. “Leadership is not about a position or a title; it’s about serving others from where you are.”

Prior to and after the morning’s breakout sessions, where attendees will be placed in small groups where they can engage with speakers and each other during the focused “If you only knew” discussions, renowned pastor and speaker Dr. John Kinney will deliver words of encouragement and inspiration as the summit’s guest speaker, an advocate for servant leadership.

“When we were thinking of this and looking at national speakers, Dr. Kinney has a gift within him that has such respect for the global sense of humanity,” Phillips explained. “He is able to bring business, faith, and government together like no one else can. Dr. Kinney will give you such substance that anyone who sits with him can walk away saying, ‘I am available to serve.’ He can speak to a business leader without diminishing their value as a CEO and tap into their heart to do better.”

Those sentiments were shared by County Administrator Kevin Massengill, who said Kinney’s selection as their speaker for the summit centered on his ability to inspire action out of those hearing his message.

“You can’t sit down and listen to him speak and leave the room as the same person you were before you came in,” he remarked. “When I listen to him, he speaks in hopeful terms and challengers those who don’t. Even in our conversations, he encourages people by using such hopeful terms so when you leave, you feel better about yourself and your circumstance and you feel motivated to do something with that hope you have and that is fundamental to what we are trying to accomplish here.”

As registration remains open until this Friday, Jan. 24, organizers had a simple message for those who may be on the fence about attending next week’s free leadership summit – come.

“This summit is for people who care about results, relationships and making Dinwiddie County an even better place to learn, work and live,” DCPS Superintendent Weston said. “It’s for people who serve others and are focused on the greater good. It’s for anyone who wants to make a positive difference in this community.”

“They should be here because they matter,” Phillips said. “You are the greatest representative of your need. You should be there because you matter.”

For more information on the Lead Well Summit and to register by Friday, Jan. 24, visit the county’s website at

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