Leading the Leaders
Terry Strine could have retired to a life of ease. But when you believe the country is headed down the wrong road, you have to act. Meet his new young leaders.
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Another member of the class, Matt Terrell, 38, says Leadership Delaware has “far exceeded” his expectations. “It’s been a great chance to learn from experts on various issues, and the Q-and-A sessions are especially good,” says the Wilmington resident.
Terrell, the son of Allen Terrell, a member of the program’s board, is founder of Vision Creations, which markets branded merchandise and apparel. He finds the time commitment—group projects and extensive reading, in addition to the two full days per month—to be a bit more than he anticipated, but worthwhile.
Though his father is a long-time Republican supporter, Terrell describes himself as a Democrat who is “fiscally conservative and socially liberal.” He knew of Strine’s role as Republican state chairman. “My greatest reservation going into the program
was that it wouldn’t be politically balanced, but I haven’t found that,” Terrell says. “We’re all aware, engaged, so we have some sort of political leaning, but I would say we’re about evenly divided, one-third Democrats, one-third Republicans and one-third Independents.”
The governor’s office would probably dispute that breakdown. Markell and his chief strategy officer, Brian Selander, believe a GOP undertone pervades the program. “While the governor has said that leadership programs have the potential of having a very positive impact, he would be a lot more enthusiastic about Leadership Delaware if it was more bipartisan, with a broader range of ideologies presented,” Selander says.
He points to the board of directors, which is made up almost entirely of leading Republicans: du Pont, Ernie Dianastasis, Robert Hill, John Rollins Jr., Skip Schoenhals, Kim Hoey Stevenson, Terrell and, of course, the Strines. The lone Democrat is David Singleton, Minner’s former secretary of finance.
“Because of who’s behind it, the board tends to be Terry’s friends,” Selander says. “These are folks who are clear about where they’re at. While they may have Delaware’s best interest at heart, they certainly have a Republican background.”
Strine insists his only goal is “to identify, recruit, tutor, mentor and network the best and brightest young leaders, give them the tools, the contacts, and the know-how they will need to earn and win higher levels of leadership in every area of the state.”
“Whether they come down on the R side or the D side, I’m confident they will come down on the right side,” he says. “We are filling the pipeline for leaders in Delaware.”