Sharing a New Vision
Manager, Town of Maysville
Nestled between forests and surrounded by scattered rivers and lakes, the small town of Maysville is emblematic of Eastern North Carolina’s lush natural landscapes. It was in this rural community that Schumata Brown was born and raised—and where he would eventually enter public service.
When previous Maysville Town Manager Jonathan Franklin went through the LGFCU Fellows program in 2013, he shared his rave reviews with Brown, then a member of the Maysville Board of Commissioners. In 2015, Franklin departed for a similar role in Louisburg, and Brown ascended to the position of town manager.
As a native son ready to step up and lead the city he grew up in, Brown recognized that his leadership development would be critical. One of the early items on his to-do list was to apply for the Fellows program he had heard so much about.
“You want to be seen as a good leader in your community,” Brown said. “The Fellows program gave me a chance to share my vision and to transform Maysville.”
The confidence to shape and share that vision through changes large and small has been one of Brown’s biggest takeaways from the Fellows program. He identifies Fellows as the driving force behind his journey to becoming the type of leader he wants to be.
Take the example of Maysville’s town branding and logo. When entering Maysville on N.C. Highway 17, old signage greeted drivers with the message, “Welcome to Maysville: A passage to the beach.” Brown wanted his community to see itself as more than a mere passage, more than a town to simply drive through en route to an ultimate destination.
The program’s sessions on creating a vision and public speaking helped Brown refine his own vision, share it with confidence and generate buy-in from other key decisionmakers. Now, a fresh logo and brand greet drivers entering the town or visiting its website. Reading, “Welcome to Maysville: Naturally Welcoming,” the branding is a nod to the town’s easy access to forests, lakes, and other natural attractions.
“We wanted to get people to start stopping,” Brown said. “We wanted our town to consider itself better than just a passage to the beach. The coaching helped me come back to Maysville and share that vision.”
A self-described people person, the concept of “encouraging the heart,” taught in LGFCU Fellows, was a natural fit for Brown’s small-town mentality. His vision for Maysville included reminding municipal employees that they were cared for and their work mattered.
You want to be seen as a good leader in your community. The Fellows program gave me a chance to share my vision and to transform Maysville.
— SCHUMATA BROWN
His efforts to encourage those employees became critically important in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, which made landfall just one hour south of Maysville. While the town experienced less flooding than its counterparts, it lost power for nearly 11 days and had no running water for four days.
“We were like a little island. You couldn’t get in or out of town during that time,” Brown recalled. “Our employees put in so much work and so many hours during that time. It was important to thank them and help them feel motivated to continue working during that tough time.”
Above all else, Brown continues to value the strong, diverse network of peers he can tap into whenever he has questions or concerns in his role—a resource that isn’t easy to create in small, rural communities. In a recent consultation, he reached out to a colleague through Fellows who works in Parks and Recreation and got help creating bylaws to launch its own effective parks program.
Connections like these are indicative of the ways Fellows continue to benefit from the program long after their time in the course may have passed.
“Without Fellows, I would never have met this gentleman,” Brown said. “I can’t say enough about these courses and the networking opportunities we receive, and I can’t thank LGFCU enough for their support of this program.”