Gateway to Leadership (GTL) Program

The Chamber’s Leadership program (Gateway to Leadership) is an innovative community program designed to identify and motivate emerging and/or relocated leaders and to develop their potential for community leadership roles by acquainting them with the opportunities, realities and challenges of the community.  This project is in its eleventh year and has impacted over 180 emerging business owners/managers.

Once a future leader completes this 12-month course, they are better equipped to take on present and future leadership roles in the Poplar Bluff area.  At the end of the program, they receive a wall plaque and are recognized in the Chamber newsletter and at the Chamber’s annual banquet.

By the end of the 12-month course, participants will benefit by:

  • Having a better understanding of the community
  • Becoming more familiar with community leaders
  • Recognizing the interactions between private citizens and public organizations
  • Seeing Poplar Bluff in terms of “the big picture”
  • Having valuable networking contacts
  • Knowing more people- from classmates, to presenters to participants in activities
  • Developing leadership skills and seeing themselves as a leader
  • Bringing recognition to the participants and the Companies they represent
  • Being prepared to serve their community!

2021 participants:  Amy Seegraves (Starting USA), Branden Smith (People’s Community Bank), Callie Welker (SoutheastHEALTH), Cindy Morgan (Legacy Marketing), Heather Slayton (Smith & Company), Jason Thurlow (Wil Fischer Distributing), Jeremy Young (Larry Hillis Dodge), Jessica Walker (Larry Hillis Dodge), Jonathon Breithaupt (U.S. Forest Service), Justin Parker (Mozark Realty), Justin Rines (Wil Fischer Distributing), Kelley Young (SoutheastHEALTH), Kristi Tucker (Poplar Bluff Library), Laurie Burkhead (Southern Bank), Levi McNeal (Bank of Missouri), Mandy Moore (Starting USA), Marisa Schmitt (Best Version Media), Nicole Reese (Revere Plastics), Paul Jarrell (Smart Marketing), Sean Carlton (Holiday Inn), Terri McCormick (Boys & Girls Club).

I personally LOVED the leadership program. After first moving to Poplar Bluff I felt as if it would take years to make Bluff my home and get to know the community. That was not the case at all thanks to the Chamber’s Leadership program. Not only did I get the chance to learn about Poplar Bluff and why it is so great, but I made lasting friendships with some of the best future leaders of Poplar Bluff.


-Megan Leist (2016 Graduate), Branch Retail Manager, Southern Bank

Click  for a GTL 2022 Application

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