March 14, 2024

The Leadership Columbia Class of 2024 (LC24) is pleased to announce its partnership with Serve & Connect. As part of the Leadership Columbia program, each class chooses a project that makes an impact in the Midlands community. 

This year's class project involves enhancing Serve & Connect's new headquarters near Decker Boulevard. This center supports community-driven initiatives, fostering collaboration between police and local communities to address challenges.

The project scope is multifaceted, including upgrades to the new community center that will assist in building community trust in the Decker Boulevard area by strengthening connections and increasing access to local resources. LC24 will create an outdoor basketball court, a pavilion with a grilling area and seating, and large outdoor board game installations, among other outdoor landscaping and beautification efforts. The class will also create a memorial garden that will include a pergola to honor fallen officers and community members. 

“With the support of Leadership Columbia, we are building a vision of hope, community, and togetherness in the Decker Boulevard area,” said Kassy Alia Ray, Ph.D., Founder & CEO of Serve & Connect. “We are honored they have chosen to build outdoor facilities for their project this year, and with it, offer a critical avenue for neighbors to come together, growing trust and connection.” 

The LC24 class hopes that the addition of these outdoor activities will make the community center more inviting to the local youth that Serve & Connect works with to build a positive sense of community and transform neighborhoods in North Columbia. 

“LC24 has developed a great vision for Serve and Connect’s campus, and we’re excited to see the project take shape this spring,” said Megan Newbold, LC24 Project Chair. “It has the potential to build community and make a positive impact for many years to come.”

The class will also implement a wraparound marketing campaign for Serve & Connect and create a long-term plan for the organization that will guide future upgrades to the facility, including walking trails, a new playground, a turf field, a community garden, a mural, building renovations, and a sports and activities program. 

“Our class is excited about the opportunity to help Serve & Connect enhance its headquarters and promote the community center as the go-to space for police-community partnerships to address critical community needs,” said Anna Peterson, LC24 Project Co-Lead. “We are hopeful that our work will inform and encourage members of the North Columbia community to visit the new community center.”

“The entire LC24 class is proud to help Serve & Connect establish a community space in the Decker Boulevard and Richland Northeast area,” said Wade Sellers, LC24 Project Co-Lead. “Safe spaces are critical to the neighborhoods across our city, and we hope our efforts help enhance Serve & Connect’s mission to bring our law enforcement professionals closer to the communities they serve.”

About Leadership Columbia
Leadership Columbia is an educational program offered through the Columbia Chamber. The 10-month program provides emerging and existing leaders in the Midlands area with an opportunity to enhance their civic knowledge and network. For 50 years, Leadership Columbia has helped participants better understand the local community, while building relationships with the region's current and future leaders. For more information on Leadership Columbia, visit or contact Mary Beth Sanderson, Director of Leadership Development, at 803.733.1124. 

About Columbia Chamber
The Columbia Chamber is a private, nonprofit, Partner-driven organization comprised of 1,200 business enterprises, civic organizations, educational institutions, and individuals in Calhoun, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Newberry, and Richland counties. The Columbia Chamber serves as the voice of its Partners and the business community at large on matters of economic, educational, social, cultural, and political concern, as well as supports and promotes the success of its Partners through networking, professional development, advocacy, and leadership. The organization has represented the interests of the local business community since 1902. To become a Partner or to learn more about the Columbia Chamber, as well as its events, programs, and initiatives, visit

About Serve & Connect 
Serve & Connect is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that aims to ignite positive change through police-community partnerships. Kassy Alia Ray founded the organization in memory of her late husband, Officer Gregory Alia, who was killed in the line of duty in 2015. Backed by evidence-based practices designed to fuel collaboration, Serve & Connect provides the tools, training, and technical assistance necessary for police departments, local organizations, leaders, and residents to work together to improve community outcomes. 

Leadership Columbia Participants Prepared for Media Engagement:
Several Leadership Columbia class members have received media training through Richland Library as part of the Leadership Columbia program and are available for interviews to highlight the project and its impact on the community. Media outlets interested in interviewing Leadership Columbia class members should reach out to Katie Hagan at or 803-360-3358.

If you or your organization would like to contribute to the project, please consider purchasing items from the Amazon Wishlist here: