While we have a lot of great programs at the Durango Chamber of Commerce, one of the most revered – and valuable to people who want to be involved in the community – is Leadership La Plata.
“Leaders may be born, but they’re much more effective when trained.” That’s what Leadership La Plata seeks to do – not just with leadership skills training but with opportunities to learn more about our incredible and complex community in La Plata County. Each of the eight day-long courses held throughout a curriculum year covers an aspect of our community, such as arts and culture, government, environment, business and diversity. If you speak to LLP alumni who were born and raised here, they will tell you that they discovered characteristics of our community they never knew existed through the program.
With 30 years under our belt, we thought it was time to review and evaluate the program. The timing was right to assess whether the program continued to be relevant to today’s prospective leaders, whether we are meeting our stated goals and whether we are clear about what those goals are.
To that end, LLP and the chamber contracted with OMNI, an organization that can remain unbiased, utilizing a logic model formula to develop a method of evaluating LLP. Over the past eight months, these consultants have worked with a dedicated team of LLP alumni: Jasper Welch, Christi Zeller, Indiana Reed, Wanda Ellingson, Janae Hunderman, Kelsea Ferrato and Mark Thompson.
Together, we’ve come up with a plan to really assess the outcomes we, as the graduates of LLP (Yes, I had the privilege of being accepted to the program in 2007) want to see with this program. Our logic model focuses on the unique goal of LLP: to develop a group of effective leaders who are informed on the assets, issues and stakeholders in the community and who take action to address community issues through respectful discourse, strategic work with diverse community stakeholders and innovative solutions.
Though the immediate outcomes of the program improve individual participants’ leadership skills, self-awareness, connections with others and knowledge of our community, the long-term outcomes impact us all. As generations of leaders participate in and graduate from LLP, the end result is stronger, more effective organizations and government in La Plata County.
The common denominator across the board is the Chamber of Commerce, and as said, we take this program very seriously. We feel it’s very important to educate our community members, keep them informed and truly maintain La Plata County as a stellar community. The people of La Plata County make it what it is, not the scenery.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention – LLP is a very fun experience. At the initial retreat in September, the class of 18 people bond as friends for life (and we design the program to have a diverse group – the best we can hope is that no one knows each other as it’s a life-expanding experience to actually communicate, commune and listen to and understand people from completely different walks of life).
As we’re now in the “election season” in Durango, it brings to the forefront the importance of having educated community leaders. Remember, I’m not talking “book-learning.” I’m talking having a full understanding of the breadth and depth of our community.
LLP is beginning its recruitment for the 2019-2020 class. Applications are online at www.leadershiplaplata.org and must be returned to the chamber, including two recommendation letters, by 5 p.m. May 31.
You can learn more about the program, as well as see the full roster of all the great graduates who have benefitted from and grown through the program, on the LLP website.
Jack Llewellyn is executive director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at email@example.com.