Judy S. Lyttle serves as Vice Chair on the Surry County Board of Supervisors and is also a member of the VACo Board of Directors. Lyttle graduated from the Virginia Certified County Supervisor Program with the first class in 2006.
This comprehensive program with home study and a follow-up session is open to all County Supervisors. The Virginia Certified County Supervisor Program features five core courses and is a joint effort of the Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Association of Counties.
Dr. Mike Chandler, Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech, and Dr. Martha Walker, Extension Community Viability Specialist at Virginia Tech, serve as course instructors. There is an eight-week home study segment following the initial meeting.
Lyttle talked with VACo about the benefits of the program and how it helped shape her as a local elected official.
Question 1. Please talk a little bit about the program and how it helped you become a better supervisor.
Answer 1. I was elected in 1999 and my service to the community started in 2000. I was generally knowledgeable about Board functions but wanted to know more. The courses were constructed in a way to help explore and understand the processes of leadership with responsibility.
Q2. The program challenges supervisors to expand their knowledge, leadership abilities and networking base. Why are those benefits so important for supervisors and did the program help you improve your knowledge, leadership and networking?
A2. I believe the more knowledge I have on any subject, the better I can make decisions on the right information and not on emotions or other factors. Leadership abilities aid in moving the program forward using core value skills and communication. Networking is great because communities can share a bond that all issues are relevant.
Q3. What is one takeaway from each course that helped you improve as a supervisor?
- Inventing Your county’s Tomorrow Today: The Role of Community Planning: Do your homework by looking at your community and planning according to your vision, the Board’s vision and most importantly the vision of the community and citizens. Hold community planning meetings and always remember the laws of the State.
- Leadership for Effective Governance in the 21st Century: Very important to me the message “Leaders do the right thing.”
- Funding County Government: The Role of Budgeting: I will always remember “budgets are the driving tool for the functions of your community. General Assembly provides the framework.”
- Managing While Leading—Understanding Your Powers, Duties, and Responsibilities: “Do the Right Thing,” trust, share, focus, take initiative to lead, listen, consider others.
- Enhancing Local Government Effectiveness—Regional Partnerships and the Act of Decision Making: Creative thinking, lateral and vertical thinking. We have a tendency to think vertically but should we not think about the improbable, unlikely, unseen and easily dismissed, de Bono argues by the introduction of “Six Thinking Hats.”
Q4. How does the program continue to assist you today as you serve your county?
A4. Having the course work I can always refresh my thoughts on my duties.
Q5. What would you say to supervisors who are thinking about enrolling in the program?
A5. You receive a wealth of information to help you develop your vision, plan, leadership style, communications, policies and budgeting as well as gain knowledge of the General Assembly and the federal government.