With protestors filling streets across the nation, COVID-19 spreading through communities and the economy in upheaval, leadership skills are in high demand, a Roaring Fork Leadership (RFL) spokesperson said.
“Our philosophy is everybody is a leader,” said Andrea Palm-Porter, the RFL executive director. “You don’t have to be an executive. A leader might just be somebody who embraces the courage needed to put their idea on the table.”
Founded in 1988, the nonprofit organization provides the Roaring Fork Valley with leadership training courses tailored to the participants strengths and needs.
“We always need leaders to solve community problems, but those problems are on steroids because of COVID-19,” Palm-Porter explained. “If there are more resilient leaders in a community, they are able to stay in a state of calm and are better prepared to collaborate, communicate and problem solve.”
Through a variety of programs, the organization helps participants hone their decision making skills, ability to demonstrate empathy, communication skills and innovative spirit, she said.
One such program, dubbed the Academy, is a 10-month course focused on developing the attendees’ team-building skills and civic engagement through face-to-face sessions and community projects.
While the pandemic paused life as most knew it, Palm-Porter said COVID-19 provided an opportunity to put those skills to use and explore new connection options, such as Zoom meetings.
During the current Academy course, which ends June 26, the participants selected the YouthZone diversion and advocacy program for their community project.
“We collect several applications and ideas for community projects,” Palm-Porter said. “And one of the first team-building exercises in the Academy is picking a project they want to do together and think will have the greatest benefit for the community.”
Academy 2020 participants helped YouthZone develop a youth-led restorative justice program, which brings together a criminal offender, victim and members of the community to help facilitate closure. By identifying community needs and collaborating with YouthZone staff, Palm-Porter said the Academy also helped the program determine the best community use for a large basement area in the building YouthZone recently purchased.
For the Academy class of 2021, which is slated to begin in September, participants will review community projects directly related to COVID-19 and its impact on the surrounding community.
Another initiative, RFL Live: Resiliency Experience, is a free training opportunity the organization is offering the community, Palm-Porter explained.
“This is not only a local community experience, it’s a global experience that is occurring,” she said in an email. “The skill of resiliency has become more important in our world as we face a different level of difficulty during a worldwide pandemic in our lives now.”
The training effort combines expertise from a variety of leaders around Colorado and is open to the public every Tuesday at Noon via Zoom.
Additionally, the program is accompanied by a webpage, www.rfleadership.org/resiliency-resources, designed to provide educational resources and influential content for the whole community.
“We’re always living in uncertainty, even pre-COVID-19,” Palm-Porter said. “But now more than ever, we don’t know what tomorrow brings, and that’s what makes the need for leadership so great right now.”
Go to www.rfleadership.org to register for Resiliency Experience or learn more about RFL’s programs and offerings.