Chamber relaunching Lunch with Leaders

By John Peters -



The Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce is reviving a program aimed at allowing local residents to hear first-hand the challenges and successes of area agencies with the rebirth of its Lunch With Leaders series.

It begins Thursday with school superintendents Dr. Kim Morrison, Mount Airy City Schools, and Dr. Travis Reeves, Surry County Schools, both scheduled to address a lunchtime meeting at Cross Creek Country Club.

The program, which the chamber operated several years ago, gave leaders of local government agencies and businesses a chance to talk a bit about what their organizations were doing, and to field questions from the audience.

“It’s been a while,” said chamber President and CEO Randy Collins, of the last time the chamber held such a gathering. “It was before I came here, and I’ve been here for three years.”

He said several chamber members asked about the series, prompting him and the chamber’s Public Policy Committee to restart the lunches.

Collins said there are a number of agencies that were considered for the first event. Once chamber officials decided upon focusing on education for the first gathering, it wasn’t necessarily an easy call on specifically who to invite.

“We have to select carefully. … It was difficult for us to choose a speaker because there are a lot of education-related entities in the community: a great community college, we have Christian educators, we have a charter school, we have the home schoolers. Asking someone to speak on education, that’s a broad topic.

“The committee wanted to invite someone who would appeal to the masses, certainly those two school systems interact with the majority of people in our community. Obviously, we know a lot of people interface with Mount Airy public schools and with Surry County public schools, so the superintendents were an obvious choice.”

He said the two will be speaking on the subject The State of The Schools — An Education Update. After their talks, he said there may be time for a short question and answer session with the audience.

Collins said the chamber is looking to continue the Lunch With Leaders beyond Thursday’s event.

“We’re looking for people in the community who are leaders. So many have a story to tell. We are working on several (other speakers), we would welcome people to submit ideas to the chamber.

He said the chamber will probably look to sponsor one every quarter.

“We could do one every week, or every other day, and still not hit all the leaders who are in the community. There are a lot of stories to tell out there.”

He said other organizations the chamber may be approaching about speaking at additional Lunch With Leaders might include individuals from the city and county governments; state legislators; someone from the police, fire and/or rescue agencies in the community; Northern Hospital of Surry County; or a host of local businesses.

“We could revisit education, with the charter school, the college here, there’s always a story out there to be told. We have plenty of content.”

For Thursday, he said the chamber anticipates more than 50 people, and can still accommodate more.

Thursday’s program is set to begin at 11:30 a.m. at Cross Creek Country Club. Tickets to the event are $20 per person for chamber members and $25 for nonmembers. Event sponsorship and reserved tables for later Lunch With Leaders are available. Contact Collins at the chamber for more information at or by calling 336-786-6116 ext. 203.



By John Peters

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