The honor was bestowed during the Y’s annual Person of the Year program, Dec. 5 at Trinity Presbyterian Church. For 71 years, teens in the Y youth programs show appreciation to people dedicated to young people in the community with a banquet recognizing Person of the Year nominees. Ultimately, one is selected as the Person of the Year.
Part of the tradition: Sanders was presented a red jacket, which prior winners proudly wear at the annual banquet.
Sanders was among 17 nominees. Student leaders interview the candidates and create a presentation, gaining interviewing and presentation skills while learning about community leaders. Candidates are judged based on several criteria, including their service to youths, their involvement with the YMCA and church leadership.
“Being chosen as the Greater Montgomery’s YMCA Person of the Year is an incredible honor,” Sanders said. “But it really reflects the hard work and commitment of everyone in our Alabama Power family who are so dedicated to serving our customers, supporting our communities and contributing to the growth of our entire region.”
Sanders is a 36-year employee of Alabama Power, which serves about 3.2 million people across the southern two-thirds of the state. The company’s Southern Division serves customers in south-central Alabama, from Lee County in the East, through the Montgomery metro area, to Dallas, Wilcox and Perry counties in the West.
Prior to being Southern Division vice president, Sanders was Alabama Power’s vice president of Governmental Relations.
Sanders has an extensive history of community service, having been chair of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and the Montgomery Riverfront Development Foundation. She is vice chair of the YMCA of Greater Montgomery Association, as well as on the board of directors of the Alabama Department of Human Resources, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the Central Alabama Community Foundation, Marion Community Bank, Marion Military Institute, Montgomery Area Committee of 100 and Family Sunshine Center. She was the coordinator of the 45th anniversary ceremonies of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Montgomery Improvement Association.
The YMCA is a leading nonprofit in the Montgomery area for more than 150 years. The Y’s goal is “to improve overall health and well-being, ignite youth empowerment and demonstrate the importance of connections in and across our Montgomery community,” the organization said in a news release announcing Sanders’ award.
“It’s such an honor to recognize Leslie Sanders as the 2022 Person of the Year,” said Gary Cobbs, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Montgomery. “Leslie exemplifies the meaning of this award through her dedication to community service, church leadership and youth mentorship. The YMCA of Greater Montgomery is thrilled to have her support year after year.”