SAFFORD — Gila Valley Leadership Cohort 17 may have the most early success of any Leadership class to date.
Leadership Cohort 17 celebrated its completion Thursday, during the Graham County Chamber of Commerce’s June Soiree at The Venue on Main, and attendees learned that two of the cohort’s participants are already moving into new leadership positions.
Cohort 17 graduate Desiree Schnell, owner of Josie James Co., has been selected to serve on the Graham County Chamber of Commerce board of directors, along with Royce Hunt-Bell, owner of Roycycled Treasures and a Cohort 4 alum.
Those attending also had the honor of watching Cohort 17 graduate Hyrum Gray receive confirmation of his admission to the United States Military Academy at West Point, from Dr. Dennis Rowe, a 1973-graduate of West Point.
Gray, a 2019 graduate of Buena High School in Sierra Vista who served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recently completed his EMT certification at Eastern Arizona College. He said he’s hoping that certification helps the Army in determining how he can serve.
“I’m hoping that I get a medical billet,” Gray said. “I’d love if they’d sponsor me to medical school, and then I can be a trauma surgeon as . . . what I would like to specialize in. But they get to determine that as well.”
Gray appointment to the military academy was the result of significant work by Graham County Supervisor John Howard, who first started the process with U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz. When redistricting moved O’Halleran out of Graham County’s district, and following O’Halleran’s defeat in the 2022 election, Howard began working with U.S. Rep. Juan Ciscomani, R-Ariz., the new congressman representing Graham, Greenlee and Cochise counties.
Despite Ciscomani being in office for just six months, Howard was able to get Gray’s appointment secured.
The last gathering for Cohort 17 will be the option of traveling to Washington, D.C., on June 14-17 to meet with Arizona’s Congressional delegation.
Applications for Cohort 18, which begins at the end of summer, are being accepted by the Graham County Chamber of Commerce.
Editor’s note: Royce Hunt-Bell is the wife of reporter David Bell. This story was updated at 5:42 p.m. Friday, June 2, 2023, with additional information about Gray’s appointment to West Point.