Cultivating Community Leaders

Southern Land Company employee Matt Magallanes was selected to participate in this year’s Leadership Franklin cohort. He explains why he’s excited to start the program, and why Southern Land Company supports such deep community engagement.

“Often, we view a community through the lens of our work within it,” says Matt Magallanes, Southern Land Company’s Vice President of Business Development, Capital Markets. “But,” he adds, “communities such as his home in Franklin TN — which is also home to Southern Land Company’s headquarters — are much more than a good market to work or develop. Rather, they are culturally complex places with layered, interesting dynamics.”

Magallanes will get a chance to delve into those dynamics soon. On July 12, non-profit Leadership Franklin announced that he was chosen to be part of the newest group accepted into its prestigious program. He says that Southern Land Company has been more than supportive of his participation and that the company truly encourages employees to engage with their communities, wherever they are.

Leadership Franklin provides a special, programmatic way to learn about the community. The program, now in its 21st year, is designed to give rising community leaders a deep education about Williamson County. Each year, it lasts from August through April, and each month, the class comes together for a full day of activities. Each day has a different theme. Themes include criminal justice, history, education, government, media and many others. Each themed day is organized by program alumni.

“Every part of it is exciting to me,” says Magallanes, adding that he’s especially looking forward to the days that focus on Franklin’s history and education system.

In fact, Magallanes established himself as a qualified candidate for the competitive program through his extensive work the Education Foundation for Williamson County, and with the Westhaven Foundation, a charity non-profit that he co-founded nine years ago.

“I’m glad I work at Southern Land Company, which has been supportive,” Magallanes says. Even though the program will pull Magallanes from the office for ten full days, not counting additional project work, he says that Southern Land Company values employees that engage with communities and supports his passion to learn more about where he lives and works.

In fact, Southern Land Company has supported previous Leadership Franklin class members. Three Leadership Franklin alumni are former Southern Land Company employees. One alumna, Amy Law, is the Director of Community Management at Southern Land Company. She graduated from the program in 2011 and is currently a member of the Leadership Franklin board.

“It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever done,” she says. “Every day is different and unique and just rich with information and dialogue.”

She adds that she remains in touch with her Leadership Franklin classmates, and she hopes Southern Land Company employees will continue to have strong representation in future cohorts.

Of course, Magallanes gives much of the credit to the city of Franklin for supporting such a robust program. “I think that it’s important to have a city that understands if you want good leadership, you have to nurture it.”