Jun 14th, 2017
Amy West doesn't want to be selfish with her time; she wants it to matter, and she wants to help future generations.
She immersed herself in the Jackson Chamber's leadership development programs - Leadership Jackson and Leadership University - after graduating from the latter in 2011. For her efforts, the chamber named her Volunteer of the Year at its 2017 awards banquet in March.
Today, she serves on the Leadership Jackson Alumni Association Board of Directors, as well as the Leadership University Board of Directors, where she serves as chair for 2017 and 2018.
"I really wanted to give back to the community as a result of going through Leadership Jackson myself," said West, director of human resources for Jackson State Community College. "You really learn things about the community that you would never be aware of. It gave me an appreciation for the history and the culture and all the richness we have in Jackson. You learn about what the community's needs are, and it gives you an opportunity to plug in and choose where to lend your talents to help."
Leadership Jackson is the chamber's adult leadership development program. Since 1979, it has connected more than 1,000 graduates with local opportunities, needs, problems, and resources.
Leadership University is the chamber's youth leadership development program for high school juniors in Jackson and Madison County. Established in 1999, the program has exposed a younger generation to local opportunities, needs, problems and resources available in the community.
"They go through a leadership experience during the whole academic year," West said. "They learn a whole lot about the community."
With both programs, West leads workshops about diversity and gives presentations in class. She is also a certified Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience - COPE - instructor at Camp McMorris in Camden, which hosts both groups for a series of fun, trust-building activities. The camp features ropes courses, as well as opportunities for rappelling and zip-lining.
She has also interviewed applicants and reviewed applications for both programs to help select the classes.
As Jackson State's director of human resources, West wears many hats. She spearheads the college's diversity efforts and ensures Title VI and Title IX compliance, which prohibit discrimination based on race and gender. She also handles the day-to-day human resources operations of the school.
She extends her volunteer work to her career, as well.
She is a member of the West Tennessee Society of Human Resources Management, which has more than 65 people from a variety of businesses and organizations seeking to advance the profession. She has been active in the organization, serving as the vice president of membership in 2011; the president-elect in 2012 and 2013; and the president in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
The organization produces two conferences a year with 115-120 participants and 20-25 exhibitors. It also manages five or six community outreach efforts each year benefitting local organizations like RIFA, the Jackson-Madison County Humane Society and the Scarlett Rope Project.
Other organizations to which West commits her time include the Salvation Army of Jackson, where she began serving on the board this year.
She joined Jackson State in 2010. She lives in Crockett County and has two daughters. She wants to teach them to have a servant attitude.
"I do it for future generations," she said. "I really think it's important to show my daughters that life is not all about us. It's about giving back to others. We're all given the same amount of time each day, and I really focus on making my available hours count."