During a guided tour of the Central Alabama Opportunities Industrialization Center Inc. (OIC), two of the center’s instructors were having a serious discussion with a young man as his father stood by. The center’s president and CEO, Connie Harper, stopped to intervene, telling the young man to stop slouching. “Stand up straight – you’ve got good limbs. Let’s stand up!” The boy did as he was told, never lifting his gaze above the floor. “How are you doing?” Harper asked, and then ordered him to look at her. “Give me some eye contact,” she demanded. Harper was apologetic about the interruption, but made no bones about her belief that the young man was a bright and natural leader – and she was not about to give up on him.

Maybe that’s why Harper was chosen to receive the 2009 Chairman’s Award at the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce’s