Spotlight - Sarah Savage


Cultivating their 29th Class in 2015, Leadership Huntsville/Madison County got its start in 1987 when leaders from the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County heard about an explosion of successful Leadership programs growing across the country. Incubated as part of the Chamber of Commerce Foundation until 2010 when it became an independent entity, Leadership president and CEO Sarah Savage has been with the organization for more than half its tenure.

EVENT: What is Leadership Huntsville?

SS: Leadership Huntsville identifies community leaders, educates them in leadership initiatives, inspires them to act, and connects them with other leaders to make things happen. They come from diverse backgrounds and all age groups beginning with ninth grade through retirement age. They represent all areas of education, government, business, healthcare, and nonprofit organizations.

In the schools, they come from Future Farmers of America, athletes, band, and ROTC. They are from public, private, parochial, and homeschools.

EVENT: Tell us about the classes.

SS: We have six different classes going year-round. Our longest adult class is a 10-month commitment. They must commit to one 12-hour day per month. They pay tuition, which is how we fund ourselves. The community is our classroom. We study healthcare; human services; local, state, and federal government; and public safety. We talk about quality of life issues; the arts, leisure, and culture.

We discuss diversity and how well we are doing in that area; and how the differences between Generation X and Generation Y play out in our society. Each class also participates in a small group project.

Huntsville Utilities’ Project Share is a Leadership project from Class 1; the Community Foundation of Huntsville/Madison County is an outgrowth of Leadership. Leadership graduates go on to build playgrounds; to form nonprofit organizations and to populate nonprofit boards; they are appointed to commissions; and many go on to run for public office or to run political campaigns. They also get their companies and employees more engaged in the community as a whole.

EVENT: There are so many aspects to a community; isn’t it hard to get everyone in the right place?

SS: There are four types of community capital: Built Capital like infrastructure, roads, buildings, equipment you need for your community to succeed. The quality of Built Capital differentiates communities that really kick it from those that don’t. Social Capital is the opportunities, places for people to meet and things for people to do; an atmosphere for networking and engagement in the community. Then there is Natural Resource Capital, green space like parks, lakes and recreational space, for which Huntsville has plenty; and then the most important thing for economic development: Human Capital. How well do we engage our citizens? How do we mobilize them to act?

EVENT: Tell us about this national alliance of Leadership programs coming to Huntsville in June.

SS: I am on the Board of Directors for the Association of Leadership Programs (ALP) based in Texas, and June 18-20, they will bring between 300 and 500 people from Leadership programs all over the country to Huntsville to share Best Practices from their communities. We are excited because it has been over twenty years since this national conference was held in Alabama, and we competed against eleven cities to bring it here.

Experts Corner - Rebecca Sterling


Why is Matcha so special?

By Rebecca Sterling

At Sterling Health and Compounding, healthy living is a passion. They focus on issues related to prevention, achieving a healthy lifestyle and product ingredients. Owner Rebecca Sterling offered educational insight into a popular green tea, Matcha.

Matcha is suddenly making headlines and becoming a celebrity favorite. At Sterling Health and Compounding, the Tennessee Valley’s source for popular green tea product, Matcha, we have touted Matcha’s benefits and enjoyed its deliciousness for years!

Matcha is powdered green tea from Japan traditionally associated with formal tea ceremonies. With matcha, whole tea leaves are completely consumed not just steeped as they are in other teas. With simple preparation, matcha can be whisked into water as an invigorating healthful tea or used in smoothies, ice cream, or baking recipes. Matcha lattes and matcha smoothies are great for breakfast or as a midday energizer. The vibrant green color reflects the grassy, full bodied flavor of matcha.

Matcha is naturally sugar free and is rich in nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber. In fact, matcha provides 137 times more antioxidants than brewed green tea. Matcha also contains chlorophyll - a detoxifying agent. Matcha does contain caffeine which can stimulate the body and work in conjunction with amino acids which help calm and relax the mind. A serving of matcha is reported to provide up to four hours of mild, yet steady energy, making it the perfect “pick me up” and focusing enhancer for work, play, mediation, and exercise.

Why is matcha so special? The amazing rich taste and nutritional properties of matcha are a result of careful cultivation. Tea plants are covered with bamboo screens several weeks before harvest time, forcing the plants to work harder to grow, increasing levels of both chlorophyll and amino acids. The leaves are then harvested, steamed, air-dried, deveined, and stone-ground into a luscious powder.

The matcha carried at Sterling Health and Compounding is of premium quality and traditionally made without using artificial colors, flavors, additives, or preservatives. We carry thick, thin, and ingredient grade varieties to meet all of your matcha needs. Ceremonial grade is available for discerning drinkers. We also carry authentic bamboo whisks, teapots, and tea bowls to enhance your matcha experience.

Come visit the matcha experts at Sterling Health and Compounding to discover lovely, relaxing ways to incorporate the benefits of matcha into your daily routine. Experience the AHHHHH.


Spotlight - Chad Emerson


Started in 2013 as a successor to Big Spring Partners, Downtown Huntsville, Inc.led by its first CEO Chad Emerson, is contracted by the City of Huntsville to lead a revival of Downtown Huntsville.

Just like the Chamber of Commerce leads the revival of economic development initiatives, and the Arts Council leads the revival of arts initiatives, Chad and his small but aggressive team were hired 18 months ago. They have a five-year goal to increase residential availability; increase hotel occupancy; increase retail and shopping venues; and increase awareness of it all, by reacquainting people with our City’s center.

EVENT sat down with him to discuss what appears to be a highly successful undertaking.

EVENT: Tell us about your work with Downtown Huntsville, Inc.

CE: We wake up every day thinking, ‘How we can improve downtown Huntsville?’ When you look at our peer cities, almost every one of them has a strong downtown. We do not want to be at a competitive disadvantage and with downtown Huntsville’s natural assets, there is no reason for us to be.

Few downtowns have Monte Sano with its 30 miles of hiking and biking trails in its midst, or Big Spring Park winding its way through the neighborhood. Cities who do have those things are usually a 30-minute drive outside the city center. Also unique to Huntsville is its largely intact historic City Square with buildings that are 100 years old, but rehabilitated into businesses, office buildings, restaurants, and living space. Most cities have torn down their original city square.

Add to that a huge hospital complex that bring a lot of jobs to downtown, and something you may not think a lot about, but it is significant ⎯ our Interstate system does not cut downtown in half. These things make it possible to start with events and promotions that have reacquainted people with downtown and its unique aspects so they don’t just see it as a location, but also as a unique place for people to gather.

EVENT: What do you mean by ‘reacquainting’ people with Downtown?

CE: People move to the suburbs when there isn’t much to do downtown. For the person who walked around downtown five years ago and found it lacking, five years is a long time. It’s not a good snapshot of what’s going on today.

The re-introduction process has been our biggest challenge. It’s hard to do a $30 million mixed-use project like The Avenue for instance, without generating interest first. The good news is that at the 18-month mark, we are actually closer in terms of a timeline, to where we would be in 24 to 32 months, so we are making progress at a fast pace.

EVENT: Sounds like a challenge well met.

CE: Over 30,000 people attended our events in 2014. The Avenue is just breaking ground and it will be both retail and residential. A major anchor retailer is looking at the Mason Building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Square has 90 percent occupancy. We partner with other organizations to provide promotional support for events that have already found long term success like the Rocket City Brewfest, the WhistleStop Barbeque Weekend, and Panoply.

Our summer live outdoor music season on Thursdays and Fridays starts in March and in April, we will see the return of the street food season on every third Friday through October. The Street Food Truck Rally on Church Street brings thousands of people to downtown.

Dr. Marshall Schreeder

He has been fighting the good fight against cancer alongside his patients in its many forms for over 30 years. Based out of Huntsville’s esteemed Clearview Cancer Institute with its influential research facilities and highly successful Phase I, II, III and IV clinical trials, Dr. Marshall Schreeder, along with a group of concerned citizens, has taken his research to another level by starting Huntsville’s own Russel Hill Cancer Foundation.


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