I had the pleasure recently to visit with Leadership Macon alumni Jim McLendon who was a member of the very first Leadership Macon class in 1979. In reflecting back to the early days of LM, Jim spoke about how the Leadership Macon concept was formulated mainly by Charlie Jay. The first LM class consisted of monthly meetings in which different community leaders spoke to the group about local community issues. At that time, the meetings were very general and did not delve as deeply into the issues as is the case today. Jim added that while he didn’t know all of his classmates at the beginning of the year, they all became friends and many have stayed in touch over the years. In addition, going through the Leadership Macon class encouraged Jim to be more involved in community activities which has continued for over 30 years!

Immediately following his year in Leadership Macon, Jim was asked to be a part of the Downtown Council. He accepted willingly, and found that it didn’t take long to become “heavily involved” in the cause. He was inspired by their mission because at that time, many of the downtown retail stores were moving to the suburbs. He felt that downtown Macon had (and still has) so much to offer with its rich history and many beautiful buildings. Through their programs, street parties and various other activities they brought much needed attention to keeping Macon’s downtown alive and vibrant. They also helped in promoting downtown Macon as a dynamic location that would attract businesses. His dedication and leadership led to him serving as Chair of the Downtown Council.

Jim has also been involved with many other community organizations since his Leadership Macon class. He was involved with the Macon Arts Alliance for over 5 years and is a past Chairman of that organization. He served on the Board of Directors of the Girls Scouts of Middle Georgia for 3 years and also served on the Board of the Red Cross. Leadership Macon was fortunate to have had Jim serve on its Board on three different occasions and he served as Chair of the LM Board in 1996. Jim has also served on the Board of Directors of the MedCen Foundation for 9 years and has been Chairman of the Board for 2 years. He is currently the Chairman of Central Georgia Senior Health Systems, which oversees Carlyle Place, a Continuing Care Retirement Community on Zebulon Road.

Throughout most of his professional life, Jim has been involved with media advertising. He spent a number of years working in the radio industry with WMAZ/WAYS, leading up to his role as co-owner and managing partner of the stations. Following the sale of the stations, he joined Cox Communications and spent over 13 years as Vice President/General Manager of Cox Media. Jim has recently joined Community Health Works as Director of Strategic Partnerships where he will be working in collaboration with various organizations to increase the awareness and funding of this organization that promotes positive choices impacting healthy living for all age groups in the central Georgia region.

Jim is happily married to his high school sweetheart, Jean. Their son Jim, a stockbroker in Atlanta and his wife Leann have given them three wonderful grandsons. Jean and Jim love spending time with their grandsons and look forward to their visits.

Anyone who knows Jim will also know that he is the lead drummer of The Grapevine. What you may not know is that Jim is a charter member of the group and this year they will be celebrating 24 years of entertaining fans all over Georgia! They got their start back in the spring of 1987 when a few friends started “jamming” together. By October 1987, they opened up for The Jesters and as Jim put it “we played all 5 songs we knew”. From there they started receiving calls to play at various events and within 3 years they were performing 40 shows a year! Middle Georgia is blessed to have such a talented and fun group that calls Macon “home”.

We don’t know exactly what the founders of Leadership Macon envisioned for the members of their first LM class, but one would have to think Jim McLendon has proven an excellent example of community leadership and business professionalism for Macon and Middle Georgia. Jim has given generously of his time to so many organizations and has been dedicated to promoting Macon as a great place to live, work and raise a family. Thank you, Jim for your leadership! We will continue to follow your community improvement efforts and will look forward to the next time we see you jamming with The Grapevine!

Laura McMaster