If you have taken a class at the Association in the past 11 years or so, there is a good chance that Sam Bruce was your facilitator.

Sam Bruce is at work doing what he does best, which is training and educating.

Sam Bruce, master professional career advisor, owner and president of Sapient Business Solutions, and a career management advocate to the University of Richmond’s Center for Career Management has facilitated workshops in the Contemporary Leadership and Management Program for almost 12 years.

From various workshops on communication to mentoring and coaching to project management to emotional intelligence, Sam wanted to help employees become the best versions of themselves as leaders. And they had fun doing it. With over a decade of facilitating these workshops, it is bittersweet that we announce Sam’s retirement from teaching at the Association.

Sam is a 30-year veteran of manufacturing leadership, bringing that expertise to the classroom. A civil engineering graduate of Carnegie Mellon, he later went on to get his master’s and doctorate, although he was modest about sharing that. His passion was in the classroom, teaching others how to solve problems and digging into personalities and temperaments. He loved talking about personality types and could figure out your personality type with extreme accuracy within 5 to ten minutes of talking to you.

While personality was a common topic discussed in most workshops, there was one class specifically on Personality in Leadership. This was always a favorite, which made it an annual offering. One Rappahannock Electric Cooperative participant shared, “The CLM Program has made me aware of the different personalities that exist and how to work more effectively with my coworkers and others.” Sam knew and taught that the more you understand yourself and others, the better you can communicate and work together to solve problems.

Sam facilitated more than 100 hundred classes and presentations to more than 700 attendees during his tenure. His primary training was shared through the nearly monthly workshops at the Association, but you could also find him at other events. Throughout the years, he loved training teams or entire staffs at the cooperatives. He was invited to annual employee training days at multiple cooperatives.

Sam Bruce and Steve Harmon of Community Electric Cooperative share a light moment.

He not only presented at director and CEO meetings, but he also presented and sponsored HR Roundtables and FAMIS Conferences (aka C.R.A.F.T. conferences). No matter the audience, Sam often said he learned as much from the audience as they learned from him. Sam also spent countless hours with cooperative employees outside the classroom sharing his expertise, answering questions from a workshop and conducting one-on-one career counseling sessions. Sam truly cared for the employees. Michael Simmons of Old Dominion Electric Cooperative shared, “He’s an exceptional individual who cares about everyone’s success. The way he engages and shows a general interest in not only your career success but also success as an individual is immeasurable.”

Throughout the years, Sam was often the reason many attendees kept coming back. Some topics were dry, but Sam knew how to make them interesting and keep the class engaged. Mary Ann Gober from Craig-Botetourt Electric Cooperative said, “I very much enjoyed Sam’s training classes. Sam conducted fun and informative sessions that I took a lot from. He will be missed!”

Sam has been a fixture in the training program at the Association and it will not be the same without him. We thank him for his many years of service and partnership with the Association and its members. We will miss him, but wish him all the very best.

—Report by Brandon Burton, Director of Education and Member Engagement, VMD Association