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DI Team Member accepted into leadership program

The Doolittle Institute’s Jonathan “Johnny” Edwards was accepted into Leadership Okaloosa’s Class of 2021. He joined the Doolittle Institute as our receptionist in January of 2020 after moving down to Florida from Washington, D.C.

Johnny has 11 years of hospitality management experience under his belt, spending the last five working in condominium- and homeowners association management. He holds several certifications from the Community Association Institute. He grew up on a tobacco farm spanning North Carolina and Tennessee before swearing into the U.S. Coast Guard, where he attended culinary school. When he’s not greeting guests at the Doolittle Institute or pursuing his degree in Business, Johnny likes to cook, play rugby and Ms. Pacman (but not at the same time), boating, or running with his lab retriever mix.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to become an active leader,” he said. “I joined Leadership Okaloosa to learn how to better lead and facilitate change through diversity and respect for all. I want to work with local leaders building an anchor to bring in positive tides that can build up everyone in our community together.”

One of Johnny’s most proud achievements is playing rugby under IGR and serving on both The Charleston Blockade’s and Baltimore Flamingo’s Rugby boards. Two USA/IGR Rugby Teams working to bring diversity and awareness for equality through sport to communities locally and abroad. While on the Charleston Blockade Johnny helped teammates build a very successful yearly coat and sock drive for the less fortunate. Johnny also played in The Bingham Cup in Sydney, Australia helping win the Hoagland Vase (named in honor of Mark Bingham’s mother, Mark was one of the first openly gay rugby players and help take down flight 93). While serving The Flamingos Johnny worked in a local meal kitchen with fellow players and donated time to a local Aids charity fundraisers.

Northwest Florida State College’s Leadership Okaloosa program is a nine-month experience is designed to enhance participants’ leadership skills and provide community awareness. Hosted from September to May, participants receive classroom training by certified instructors and are given opportunities to interact with various key community leaders throughout the process.

Tours of key areas such as Destin, Crestview, Niceville, Valparaiso, Fort Walton Beach, Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field and Legislative Days in Tallahassee provide participants with a better understanding of the community. Each participant takes part in a group project to benefit the community while focusing on project management, time management and team building skills.

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