Special thank you to CYT Founder, Paul Russell, for the following blog post, which reflects on the recent CYT National Leadership Conference in Lafayette, LA.

CYT Founders, Paul & Sheryl Russell enjoying the southern hospitality at the 2015 CYT NLC.
CYT Founders, Paul & Sheryl Russell enjoying the southern hospitality at the 2015 CYT NLC.
Last week, CYT Affiliates from around the country came together for the National Leadership Conference (NLC). CYT is blessed to have some of the most outstanding leaders making a difference in the lives of over 18,000 young people every year. CYT Lafayette hosted the 2015 CYT NLC, and provided all the gracious southern hospitality one would expect. According to Tonja Rainey, the Artistic Director at CYT Baton Rouge, “This was the best Leadership Conference that I’ve ever been too.”

The 2015 CYT theme focuses on Unity. The entire event encouraged our leaders to join together, unified as CYT leadership. Check out the daily synopses below to find out just how that was accomplished at this year’s NLC:

Friday 1/23/2015

Pastor and CYT Inc. Board Member, Tom Kirkendall, kicked off the event with a message for ourleaders to Equip, Empower, Encourage and Encounter. He also introduced the 2015 CYT Theme of Unity, inspired by Romans 15: 5-7: 
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Next, Paul Russell gave the affiliates a new way to remember the CYT core values as well as to pray for all the CYTs across the country every time we see a penny.
CYT leadership of all generations! #NLC2015
CYT leadership of all generations! #NLC2015
Then, there was time for Affiliates to meet with other CYT leaders and share ideas, problems and highlights. The leaders enjoyed great times of prayer, laughter and heartache as we encouraged each other in our Mission.
 
Dinner was held at Chris’ Poboys and everyone got their fill of fried catfish, fried shrimp, fried okra, or fried chicken. It didn’t matter what you ordered, it came out fried! A great time of sharing and fellowship was had by all!
 
Saturday 1/24/2015
Saturday morning began with a workshop on suicide prevention from Dr. Theresa A. Wozencraft, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Psychology at University of Louisiana at Lafayette. After that somber, yet important and educational, session we were ready for some fun.
 
Keith Washington from the CYT Inc. Board explained the finances and how Affiliates’ fees were allocated and spent. Yes, even CYT Inc. has to raise money to exist.
 
Renee Kaufman (Creative Director, CYT Inc.) got everyone pumped up on the new products featured in the CYT Online Store. Between Renee and Heather LaForge (Director of Operations, CYT Inc.), we now all know everything there is to know about copyrights, use of logos, trademarks and how each affiliate can make more money by supporting the CYT Store.
 
Becca Wilds from CYT Indy did an outstanding workshop on HR. That’s right – HR! Go figure. How can anyone make HR interesting? Becca has a gift! She had the entire hall laughing out loud and applauding with wonderful information on Human Resources. No kidding – she received a standing ovation! We all want to grow up someday and be Becca!
 
CYT Lafayette hosted a wonderful catered lunch with pork sandwiches and the best bread pudding on the planet. Honestly! With all the sweet tea, sweet bread, sweet beignets, and sweet people, it’s almost too much to take!
 
Travis Russell, Director of Communications at CYT Inc. at the NLC 2015.
Travis Russell, Director of Communications at CYT Inc. at the NLC 2015.
Travis Russell (Director of Communications, CYT Inc.) gave an update on the new CYT software that is coming out this summer and introduced a new marketing strategy to get lots of new email contacts. SMILE: it’s a photo booth!
 
Allison Mayberry from CYT Fredericksburg was full of fresh and new ideas on how to use social media and community involvement to create buzz about CYT. This lady knows how to get the CYT name out there and knows how to build partnerships with local business.
Allison rocks and she does it on a CYT budget!
 
One of the highlights was an acting workshop given by Tyler Hutchinson of CYT Indy. He had the entire room engaged with what it means to be an actor. He pulled people from the audience to illustrate his points. Our students are lucky to work with such fine Artistic Directors as Tyler. He’s got the heart, and enthusiasm and the attitude to change the world. (Note: Tyler will be leading many of the student events at the 2015 EXPO!)
 
Sheryl Russell (CFO, CYT Inc.) ended the days session with a challenge to, “LEAD with DILIGENCE, ATTITUDE, ENCOURAGEMENT, and LOVE.”  It’s apparent that God is doing mighty work throughout CYT via our awesome leadership all over the U.S.A.
 
Gerald and Patti Broussard and Dana Bekurs (of CYT Lafayette), made Saturday night especially memorable by renting out a Footloose-eque Dance Hall for the CYT leaders to enjoy.
All they wanted to do was dance. #NLC2015. Image courtesy of Katrina DeRoche.
All they wanted to do was dance. #NLC2015. Image & caption courtesy of Katrina DeRoche.
Everyone was treated to authentic Cajun food, (Boudin sausages, red beans and rice, and fried hush puppies) and live Zydeco music. Everyone danced the night away, even learning the Louisiana two step.
CYT leaders, Tanya Tafolla & Katrina DeRoche get musical at the 2015 NLC.
CYT leaders, Tanya Tafolla & Katrina DeRoche, from CYT San Diego, get musical at the 2015 NLC.
It’s always a hassle to get to the CYT National Leadership Conference, but once you get there it’s one of the highlights of the year. On that note, make sure you start saving up for 2015 EXPO in San Diego this summer! You won’t want to miss out on the fun & fellowship.
 
A huge thanks goes to Gerald and Patti Broussard, Dana Bekurs, and the entire staff of CYT Lafayette. It truly was a remarkable weekend and they are, indeed, the hostess with the most-est! Y’all are some’um special.


Thanks for the reflections, Paul!


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