Leadership Texarkana History

Phase 1: 1978-1992
Texarkana Chamber of Commerce establishes Leadership Texarkana


  • LT Researched and Developed by the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce:  Chamber Board member Eddie Daines expressed an interest in the Dallas Community Leadership Program, which fellow Texas High alum Dan Petty had been instrumental in founding.  Both Petty and Daines had been coached in football, teamwork and life by Texas High football coach Watty Myers.  Petty was invited to Texarkana to speak at a Chamber of Commerce event.
  • As a result of the interest generated, leaders from the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce attended a Dallas Community Leadership Conference, along with attendees from programs in Ft. Worth, El Paso, Amarillo, and Beaumont. Chamber VP Jimmy Cobb, Jim Nowlin and Nancy Sandefur attended along with Eddie Daines.
  • The Leadership Texarkana program was developed over the following ten months by a Leadership Texarkana Advisory Board, under Jimmy Cobb, who had been named chairman by then Chamber President Josh Morriss, Jr. Nancy Sandefur also assisted with the program’s development and was hired to serve as the LT Curriculum Director for the first few years of the program.
  • Two hundred applications were received for the inaugural class of 25; applicants were selected to ensure diversification of backgrounds and interest.
  • Initial areas of concern to Texarkana leaders included:
    • larger voter turnout
    • industrial expansion
    • school consolidation
    • city beautification
  • The program was financed by underwriters who signed on for three year commitments, for 5K total. The curriculum was designed to motivate and encourage a heightened involvement in community affairs. The first logo was designed by Carl Nelson, President of Texarkana College.


The first class of 25 individuals was selected for Leadership Texarkana.

1981 Class1980

  • The first class graduated from Leadership Texarkana. From this beginning, 25 individuals were selected annually for the program. For the first few years, Nancy Sandefur was employed by the Chamber of Commerce to serve as the LT Curriculum Director, with community leaders assisting in facilitating the monthly sessions.
  • During the 1980s and 1990s, Dona Odom (Assistant to Chamber President/CEO Swede Lee) assisted with all administrative logistics to ensure smooth functioning of the LT program. The LT Advisory Board worked through a chairman and community leaders who served as session facilitators to plan and provide curriculum for the session days. An anonymous admissions committee was appointed annually to review applications and make selections for the classes.


An LT Alumni Association was formed to motivate the involvement of graduates in the community.