NextSCV works to groom SCV’s future leaders

From left, Holly Schroeder, Cheri Fleming and Jill Mellady shared leadership advice with the NextSCV group on Wednesday night at Valencia Acura. Steve Kiggins/The Signal
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How serious is NextSCV about growing the future leaders of the Santa Clarita Valley?

The group’s first three events leave little doubt.

They started with a visit to Princess Cruises in February to hear from the brain trust of a company that has built a worldwide brand. The following month, NextSCV toured Scorpion and learned lessons in leadership from a panel of five of the internet marketing company’s top executives. And, this week, the bloc of young professionals gleaned advice from three of the area’s most influential female leaders.

“What we’d always heard is that the younger demographic hasn’t been finding a way to get their name out there,” said James Kneblik, the director of development for the College of the Canyons Foundation.

That’s why Kneblik joined together earlier this year with Renee León (Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital), Stephanie Mellady (Mellady Direct Marketing) and Peter Warda (The Musella Group), among others, to form NextSCV, a division of the SCV Chamber of Commerce whose mission is to develop leaders through personal and professional development, civic engagement and network building opportunities.

The NextSCV’s third event this week at Valencia Acura drew another sold-out crowd of young professionals. Steve Kiggins/The Signal

The group’s most recent event drew another sold-out crowd, this time to Valencia Acura, where the emerging leaders crunched tacos, drank margaritas and learned from the experiences of Cheri Fleming, who owns the dealership with her husband, Don; Holly Schroeder, president and CEO of the SCV Economic Development Corporation; and Jill Mellady, president of Mellady Direct.

“We need your leadership for a brighter future for this community,” Jill Mellady said during an hourlong question-and-answer session that touched upon the value of mentorship, networking and communication.

She added, “Because we’ve been doing this a long time and we need new leaders to step up.”

While those words drew a round of laughter, Mellady was fully serious. It’s the same sentiment that León said Fleming has shared with her over the past few years.

“There’s people in this community who have been doing this for a long time and they’ve been wanting to pass the reins,” said León, who described Fleming as both a role model and a friend. “They just need to know to who.”

NextSCV is designed for young professionals ages 21-40. To learn more, go to and fill out a get-to-know-you form.

The group’s next event is scheduled for May 30 at Brewery Draconum in Newhall.

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