Leadership program creates turning points | PostIndependent.com

Leadership program creates turning points

Andrea Palm-Porter


“Through awareness I can make the most effective change in myself. Changing my perception will have far greater results than trying to change my behavior.” — Melanie Doskocil, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet

“My life has accelerated in terms of commitment, taking action, taking risks, being proactive, trying different behavior to attain results, treating people differently, joining new organizations, taking new classes, and being more accountable for my perceptions of individuals, organizations, and events.” — Gordon Ledingham, senior relationship manager, Wells Fargo

“RFL had a huge influence on my life by showing me things about myself and others that I’d ignored or failed to recognize before. I honestly think that I see the world in a different way now.” — Lauren Yant, Account Manager, Richter

Christina Brusig, executive director of the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts, was part of the Roaring Fork Leadership class of 2012, but it is still fresh on her mind.

Just last week, she reviewed some of the reading material to prepare for “a high-stakes conversation,” she said.

“I reflect on that class all the time,” she said. “It helped me grow personally leaps and bounds, and helped me integrate those practices into the art center when I became executive director.”

Brusig is among dozens of graduates of the program, which runs from August-May each year with monthly meetings on topics including communication, collaboration, civic engagement and community decision making, emotional intelligence and more. Participants also break into teams for civic projects, which this year include working with Habitat for Humanity; Garfield County Libraries on its buy local campaign; Roaring Fork schools Enrichment Wednesday programs; an energy efficiency program for low-income homeowners; and an RFSD curriculum for parents of likely first-generation college students.

Applications are being taken now for the class that starts in August.

Originally known as Leadership Aspen, the program started in 1988. Its alumni include a range of civil, business and nonprofit leaders from throughout the region. The cost is $2,500, but donors to the nonprofit cover another $2,000 for each participant.

Roaring Fork Center for Community Leadership Executive Director Andrea Palm-Porter said each year’s class is chosen through an application process. It’s a life-changing school year, Palm-Porter said, and graduates “are ready to step into leadership roles.”

Both Brusig and Palm-Porter said the program helps people with personal values and integrity as much as providing the kind of professional training people experience over the course of their careers.

In part, the learning is about “being able to accept people for who they are and remaining open to differences,” said Palm-Porter, a former advertising executive and publisher (including of the Post Independent) who has been with the organization for four years.

“You can just barrel through the day and at the end, there’s carnage,” she said. “You wonder, ‘How did that happen?’” The leadership class provides specific technique for mutual respect, tolerance and “remaining in dialogue” even when things are tense.

Brusig said it enabled her to be “more personally accountable and to consider the difference between wrong and right versus what’s working and what’s not working.”

The class also broadened her network of friends and experts she can rely on for advice and support.

“You make friends with people you wouldn’t normally interact with, and they believe in you and trust you,” Brusig said.

For information about the program, visit http://www.rfleadership.org.

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