A Fort Leonard Wood commander recently provided the commencement address at a graduation ceremony for aspiring area leaders.

Col. Andy Herbst, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander, was asked to speak at the 2015-2016 Leadership Pulaski County graduation dinner Feb. 18 at the Hampton Inn Banquet Hall in neighboring St. Robert, Missouri.

"It was an honor to have Col. Herbst with us. He is a great representative of Fort Leonard Wood," said Mike Freeman, Waynesville-St. Robert Chamber of Commerce president, whose organization manages more than 100 events per year.

Cecilia Murray, Waynesville-St. Robert Chamber of Commerce executive director, who has successfully managed four leadership classes since the program's inception in 2012, said the chamber wanted a successful leader to motivate the graduating class, which included former military and military spouses, along with alumni, to continue their leadership journey.

"Having Col. Herbst as our keynote speaker continues to show the bond between Fort Leonard Wood and the Waynesville-St. Robert communities," she said. "It was a memorable evening for all those in attendance and everyone took away a leadership tip from Col. Herbst."

Herbst said there is nothing more rewarding than to share thoughts and experiences about leadership, as he addressed the graduates in this year's program, which took place over six months. "I feel honored to enjoy fellowship and provide comments during this very special event to celebrate a leadership journey that started last September and continues tonight and beyond," he said

"I agree with many behavioral theorists who believe leaders are made not born," said Herbst, who enlisted in the Army when he was 17 and rose through the enlisted ranks to staff sergeant before being selected for Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia.

"Leadership is a set of skills that can be learned by training, practice and experience over time," said Herbst, who commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps in 1990. "The road to becoming an innovative and inspiring leader is different for each of you, but I believe there are several commonalities required to be successful, respected and followed."

Herbst, who has commanded as an Army captain, lieutenant colonel and now as a colonel, talked about the four things he believes must be in place for leadership to work: leading, team building, mentoring and caring.

"When in charge, take charge; maintain high ethical standards; know your people; and have fun," he said.

Herbst praised the Waynesville-St. Robert Chamber for having the insight to develop a program, which recognizes the importance of preparing informed and adept leaders who an contribute to the growth and development of the community.

"For the graduates of (Leadership Pulaski County) Class 4, thank you for all you've done to lead, build teams and care for others," he said. "Your work in this community is invaluable and greatly appreciated. Our community cannot wait to see what you'll do next."

Leadership Pulaski County is a community-based leadership program designed to identify, educate and develop leaders, while introducing participants to the area's business, government, military and volunteer organizations, according to Murray.

For more information about Leadership Pulaski County, visit www.leadershippulaskicounty.org/, or call the Waynesville-St. Robert Chamber office at 573.336.5121.

Leadership Pulaski County
Class of 2016:

Elaine Clark, Pulaski County Home Health Center; Johnniecia Corwise, Girl Haven Boutique; Jesse DeGrafteenreed III, City of Waynesville; Jessica Lynne Dobbins, Ozark Media -- KFLW 98.9 The Fort; Katherine Dreadfulwater, Pulaski County Tourism Bureau; Trevor Garcille, Fort Wood Hotels -- Hampton Inn; Shauna Houston, Waynesville Rural Fire Protection District; Christopher Landes, Colton's Steakhouse; Sandy Lenzmeier, Armed Forces Bank; Dawn Payne, Life Care Center of Waynesville; Laura Schoephorster, Citizens Bank of Newburg; Emily Slama, Pulaski County Library District; Kate Thomas, Waynesville-St. Robert Chamber of Commerce; Christy Wilson, Waynesville Medical Plaza; and Sean Wilson, Greater Faith Victory Church.