Leadership Jackson County welcomes new director, recognizes outgoing leader


Rexanne Ude was one of the 12 members of the Leadership Jackson County Class of 1984.

That was the second class of the leadership program for adults, which started as Leadership Greater Seymour in 1982.

Now, 36 years after graduating, she has been chosen as the nonprofit organization’s director.

Ude is no stranger to leading, as she served as executive director of Girls Inc. of Jackson County and the Schneck Foundation. She’s now retired and works a couple of days a week at Schneider Nursery.

She takes over for Terrye Davidson, who has been director for the past nine years. Ude is LJC’s fifth director.

“Looking at what Terrye has built and others in the past, as well, other directors have built in the expectations that we have for the participants and the commitment and the engagement that they have in the program,” Ude said.

Being among the 700-plus LJC alumni makes the opportunity special, too.

“I remember building relationships with people I probably would not have otherwise either met or worked with,” Ude said of her time in the class.

“Also, my focus became less Seymour community and more county focused. That was nice,” she said, recalling visiting the jail and courthouse in Brownstown and a business in Crothersville.

Ude said the biggest change in the program since she was in the class is now having project teams. When she was in the class, the members did a group project.

Now, there are around 20 members in each class, and they are divided into five project teams that come up with something to make a difference in various areas, including social concerns, youth, community awareness/growth, history and health.

“What I did as a participant in the very beginning and what I think the participants are doing now is just a much more engaged group effort,” Ude said.

Seeing local businesses, industries and organizations sending a representative each year, sometimes more than one, is good, too, she said.

“Businesses are continuing to send people year after year, so that just speaks to the quality that has been built into the program, that Terrye has not only continued but increased the quality,” Ude said.

When she was in the LJC class, Ude said it always gave her focused time.

“Even back then, you’re running here and there and to this meeting and to that organization,” she said. “It gave you focused time to really sit down and talk and think and share information and experiences, etc., with other leaders in the community. Open discussions, conversations, opening doors to places that you might not otherwise walk into was nice.”

Davidson said her nine years as LJC director went by fast.

She took on that role after retiring from Brownstown Central Community School Corp., where she was a health and physical education teacher for 21 years and a guidance counselor for 19 years and also coached volleyball, cheerleading and track and field.

“When I took over, I had coached, I had led student government at Brownstown Central Middle School and had been a teacher, so I thought I had the skill set to be able to do it,” she said of being the LJC director.

“But learning how the pieces of the curriculum fit together, Ann Windley was so helpful that first year to help me understand how to connect it all,” she said. “That’s what I’m hopeful to do for Rexanne because even though you have the skills, you don’t have all of the details.”

Whether they are lifelong residents of the county or not, people who participate in the class typically say they learn things about the county they never knew before. That was the case for Davidson, too.

“My biggest aha moment is I had lived in Jackson County all but the first two years of my life, and I was clueless about what I didn’t know,” she said. “There were things that I was like, ‘Wow!’ and in my nine years, things have evolved and changed.”

As director, Davidson said she appreciated helping bring people into a feeling of “We’re in this together as a county.”

“As I grew up and in my years of teaching, there were four distinct school systems and then you add Trinity, and those boundaries kind of kept us separated,” she said. “We all know that the world is very regional now and global, so in the regional, Jackson County has to pull together to make ourselves as good as we can possibly be. For me, that was a lot of what I hoped to do.”

She worked with the classes to bring awareness of the value in all areas of the county. That included ensuring people from the various communities were represented.

“We need to be keeping those people involved and bring value to those areas and what they can bring to us as a county,” she said. “I think that has been terribly important.”

Davidson liked how each class was different.

“It’s kind of like a ball team,” she said. “You don’t know what you’re going to get until that first practice, and then a lot of it is creating a sense of cohesiveness with the class but also helping them understand the value of like-minded people but not everyone has the exact same set of skills.”

Noting she liked the diversity in the thinking of class members, Davidson pointed to the 2015 class with Chuck Olson, who was 82 at the time.

“Oh my gosh! What he brought to that class was astounding because his perspective was so different … and the discussions that they had,” she said. “Diversity is a great thing in a class. From the standpoint of where people live in our county, what age they are, what kind of business and industry and organizations that they bring perspective from, great understanding can happen.”

When people graduated from the program, Davidson said she always hoped they realized they had a new awareness they couldn’t get any other way.

“You can’t read it in a book. You can’t sit in a daily conference. You can’t watch a video,” she said. “You have to experience all of those pieces together to take it away and then do something with it.”

She also wanted the graduates to have more self-confidence and realize the value of strategizing and having a vision.

“As the county evolves, I think that Leadership has been a piece of helping the county move forward,” Davidson said.

Ude will lead the 39th LJC class when it gathers for the opening treat Aug. 27 at Camp Pyoca in Brownstown. Monthly meetings will continue through May 2021.

LJC also has a youth leadership program for seventh-graders, YoJack, with fall and spring sessions. That program started in 2000.

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For information about Leadership Jackson County and YoJack, visit leadershipjacksoncounty.org or facebook.com/leadershipjacksoncountyyojack.


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