Mike & Kathy Ricketts Leadership Award Nomination

It’s quite often we’re inspired by people around us. They show us what we’re capable of if we focus on greatness, and they push us to work harder and feverishly in hopes of reaching perfection.

What’s not so common is finding those who inspire us through goodness. The ones who lead by their own example. Mike Ricketts was one of those people. The husband to Kathy Ricketts, father to daughters Jenell (Gregg Long) and Melanie (Shawn Canfield), and grandparent to four more, Ricketts was devoted to family, and friends who were like family.

Ricketts developed a passion for helping others as a young employee of his family’s grocery store. It is what propelled the 1971 start of his career as a probation officer, and ultimately his role as director of probation for Chautauqua County for 21 years. Ricketts believed that people deserved a second chance. He inspired others through his encouragement and keen ability to recognize the strengths of others.

Ricketts also recognized the importance of developing leadership in the community. He (1973) and Kathy (1974) joined the Jaycees organization, and developed as volunteers and community leaders, with Ricketts serving as New York State Jaycee President in 1989 and 1990. They look back at that time and the friendships they made with great warmth and fondness.

“We did so much good for the community with the Jaycees” Kathy noted. “Our kids grew up surrounded by the organization, and we truly saw them as family.”

Later, Ricketts put his leadership skills to the test as part of establishing Chautauqua County Habitat for Humanity. It was his pride and joy for many years, as he served as president of its board of directors.

“Mike loved seeing a family walk into their forever home and knowing how that would improve their life,” Kathy said.

When Ricketts passed away in the fall of 2022, the family wished to establish a fund to support leadership development throughout Chautauqua County. Representatives of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation reached out to Chautauqua Leadership Network (CLN) to develop a partnership. The Mike and Kathy Ricketts Leadership Fund will annually recognize adults demonstrating leadership with a monetary award that is administered by CLN.

“We are honored to have this opportunity to recognize a dedicated leader in the names of Mike and Kathy,” said Cynde Johnson, CLN president. “We have legacy of recognizing those who are giving back to our community and encouraging others to grow in their service to others. This is a perfect partnership.”