Visit El Dorado
Live Here
Do Business Here
Chamber of Commerce
« View All News

Chamber’s eighth U-Lead program begins

Posted on February 21, 2019

By Caitlan Butler
Staff Writer

The El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Leadership Union County, or U-Lead, program began Wednesday after a reception Tuesday night at the Chamber.

U-Lead Class VIII consists of 12 representatives from a range of local industries and community sectors, including health care, education, energy and public service. At Tuesday’s reception, class members mingled over hors d’oeuvres as some met for the first time.

Facilitator Steve Fowler led the role-playing session. A pastor in Pineville, Louisiana, he said he has been offering the leadership course for about 20 years. He has been attending U-Lead for the past five years, where he leads the group through the SimSoc “game.”

“This is a real life scenario that they’re going to be thrown into,” Fowler said. “The game teaches you to value your own gifts and abilities and teaches you to work well with others who have different gifts and abilities.”

Fowler said he looks for three advancement markers in each society created when he facilitates the SimSoc role-playing curriculum. The first is how quickly they build media enterprises and how quickly that media begins to circulate information.

Societies are broken into “haves” and “have-nots,” those with means and those without; Fowler said the second thing he looks for is how quickly the “haves” in a society start making money and then, how they spend it.

Finally, he looks for how quickly the societies invest back into their communities through welfare programs or research and conservation.

“When I see all those things, that’s about as far as you can go with that group on that day,” Fowler said. “Everyone will kind of get their sea legs under them.”

Christopher Babbitt, a graduate of U-Lead Class VII and LANXESS south plant production manager, is this year’s U-Lead class chair. He said the U-Lead class helped him to get to know the city and the local economy.

“It gave me a good insight into the city of El Dorado as a whole,” Babbitt said.

Babbitt said he was particularly impressed with the giving spirit of the community. Since last year’s leadership class, he said he has volunteered with both United Way and the Salvation Army; as he left Tuesday’s reception, he was headed to Old Union, where he had his first night of volunteer firefighter training.

As Class VIII chair, Babbitt will help to organize the group’s activities throughout the year. He said that in addition to future workshops on subjects like leadership, the class will also visit municipal and industry sites, among other activities.

“Everybody who’s involved in the class this year is in for a treat,” Babbitt said.

Michael Murders, a new U-Lead class member and Vice President of Academic Affairs at South Arkansas Community College, said he joined this year’s class in order to get to know people in the community. Murders took the SouthArk position and moved to El Dorado in November.

“Anything about leadership is always good, but my biggest thing is probably the networking and going around El Dorado,” Murders said.

Other U-Lead Class VIII members are:

Brandon Slates of Entergy

Mark Day of LANXESS

Doug Stringfellow of LANXESS

Harvey Brown of BancorpSouth

Mylee Evans of United Insurance Agency

Danielle Monroe of Turning Point

Brandon Johnson of Health Works

Andrea Hammett of Timberlane Health and Rehab

Angela Williams of Medical Center of South Arkansas

Belinda Williams of Murphy USA

And Joshua Powell of Murphy USA.

U-Lead is a nine month program designed to help local residents become leaders, both in their companies and their community. The group typically performs public service in addition to more traditional leadership training.

Caitlan Butler can be reached at 870-862-6611 or