On May 5, the Destin Chamber of Commerce celebrated the graduation of 17 business professionals from its 8th Destin Forward class. During the event, the prestigious Destin Forward Leadership Award, chosen by class vote, was presented to Michelle Sanchez, Destin Commons.

Destin Forward, the Chamber’s hands-on community education and leadership program, was created by the Board of Directors to help find and educate future city and business leaders. After a retreat in August, the class spent the next eight months touring and learning about Destin’s waterways; tourism industry; development and real estate; arts, culture, and non-profits; environment; city programs and services; military bases; and the state legislature. Class requirements also included attendance at several Chamber and civic functions.

This year’s class supported Food For Thought Outreach, which provides backpacks full of food for under-privileged school children to take home over the weekend as they do not have access to school-provided meals. Destin Forward raised more than $5,900 for Food For Thought and also helped to construct, organize and clean the new building on Airport Road.

Also announced during the event were the four graduates chosen by the class to join the Destin Forward Advisory Committee for a 3-year term. Those graduates included Christian Carlee, Trustmark National Bank; Jason Connor, BrightView Landscape Services; Doug Rainer, City of Destin; and Michelle Sanchez, Destin Commons.

Other graduates included Lindsey Anderson, ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals; Alan Chester, Destin Computer Repair; Shelby DeSoto, Northwest Florida Daily News; Vickie Giles, ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals; Victoria Hargroder, Hargroder Real Estate Group, Inc.; Jenny Larson, SummerPlace Inn; Bertram Little, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast; Daniel Magistri, Three Lefts Consulting; Bryan Osborn, Anderson Engineering, Inc.; Donald Slappey, Hancock Bank; Brittany Tate, Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance of Northwest Florida State College; Bryce Trafford, Destin Chamber of Commerce; and Kristi West, Southern Rentals and Real Estate.

For more information about the program or how to join the class of 2017, please contact Bryce Trafford at (850) 837-2711 x2 or bryce@DestinChamber.com. Applications are being accepted through July 20.