15 Graduates of Destin Chamber’s Education and Leadership Program

DESTINY — On May 3, Destin Chamber celebrated the graduation of 15 business professionals from its 14th Destin Forward class. During the event, the prestigious Destin Forward Leadership Award, chosen by class vote, was presented to Jenna Kilpatrick of the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance.

Destin Forward, an education and community leadership program, was created to help find and educate future municipal and business leaders. After a retreat in August, the class spent the next eight months visiting and learning about Destin’s waterways, tourism industry, arts and culture, non-profit organizations, the environment, programs and city services, economic development and the military.

With the graduation of this class, the total number of alumni of the program is now 215.

Jenna Kilpatrick (right) of the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance accepts the Destiny Forward Leadership Award from 2022 House Speaker Jennifer Gutai Comella, Hand Arendall Harrison Sale LLC.  The award was chosen by class vote.

Class requirements also include attendance at several chamber and civic functions, as well as a group project that creates a lasting impact on the city of Destin. For their project, class members raised funds and provided volunteer labor to build Destin High School’s new pollinator garden with native plants and beehives. The school is now officially certified as a schoolyard habitat with the Okaloosa Community Wildlife Habitat Project. The class also donated money for a science teacher to become a certified beekeeper before bees are introduced to hives this summer.

Destin Forward Class of 2022 graduates include Wayne Bernheisel, Gulf Coast Shutter; Nick Bowyer, Stepping Stones Early Learning Academy; Destin City Councilor Teresa Hebert, Exact Sciences; Bryce Hines, Boys and Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast; Kelly Jasen, United Way Emerald Coast; Jenna Kilpatrick, Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance; Bill Mason, rocket fuel trainer; Kimberley Mergler, Marler Harbor Properties Inc.; Sally Mevers, Acentria Insurance; Kim Mooso, Destin Water Users; Allen Newton, United Methodist Church of Destin; Ryan Reed, City of Destiny; Nichole Rivera, City of Destin; Chas Skinner, Destiny of LuLu by Lucy Buffet; and Rachel Spencer, Emerald Coast Title Company.

Four class members, chosen by class vote, will join the Destin Forward Advisory Board for a three-year term, where they will help guide the program for future classes. Those chosen include Bernheisel, Kilpatrick, Mason and Mevers.

Applications are now available for the Destin Forward Class of 2023. For more information about the program, call 850-837-6241 or email [email protected]

Kevin E. Boling