City of Somerset team members graduate from leadership programs


From left, Human Resources Director Devan Smith, Somerset Police Chief William Hunt, and Communications Director Julie Harris.

Three City of Somerset employees recently graduated from leadership programs designed to provide insight about Somerset-Pulaski County and Kentucky while offering opportunities for networking and professional development.

Somerset Police Chief William Hunt graduated from Leadership Kentucky in December, a program that consists of seven three-day sessions where participants travel the state to learn about its challenges and opportunities. Throughout these sessions, class members met with many of Kentucky's current leaders and explored the state's opportunities and resources, while also forming lifelong relationships and visiting new places.

Hunt was one of 50 participants from across Kentucky who represented a variety of public and private sectors. Session topics ranged from business and economic development to arts and tourism, natural resources and the environment, education, healthcare and social issues, agriculture, and government.

In addition to his 25 years serving the department, Hunt has led the city's police force since January 2017 and is an honor graduate of the United States Air Force Police Academy. He is chair of the Lake Cumberland Area Drug Task Force and serves as the first vice president of KACP. In 2020, Hunt received the state's highest professional honor in law enforcement from the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police - the 2020 Chief of the Year Award.

Also in December, Human Resources Director Devan Smith and Communications Director Julie Nelson Harris graduated from the Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce's version of this program, Leadership Lake Cumberland.

Leadership Lake Cumberland is designed to enhance the future of the region by identifying individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to the community and a potential for leadership. The course acquaints participants with issues of leadership, community structure and operation; provides opportunities for them to interact with present and future leaders; and promotes involvement in community issues and organizations.

Smith and Harris were two of 38 members of the 2021 class who represented a diverse range of Chamber member businesses and civic organizations.

A graduate of Eastern Kentucky University, Smith is a five-year employee of the city and has served as its human resources director since 2019. Harris, a graduate of the University of Kentucky, joined the city as communications director in 2020. She is president of the Master Musicians Festival and has served on the festival's board for four years. Harris participated in Leadership Lake Cumberland as a representative of the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority, where she also serves as a communications consultant.

Somerset Mayor Alan Keck, a Leadership Kentucky alumnus, said the city is committed to providing opportunities for its employees to grow personally and professionally.

"Fostering a culture where employees are empowered to lead and make decisions has been extremely important to me," Keck said. "The knowledge and networking opportunities gained from these opportunities are incredibly powerful. I am thrilled for these members of our team and excited to see what they will bring to the table because of their experience."

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