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Austin area residents complete Blandin Community Leadership Program retreat

Grand Rapids, Minn. — Twenty-six residents of the Austin area returned February 26 from a five-day leadership retreat, the first segment of an intense eight-day training provided by the Blandin Community Leadership Program (BCLP). The team also will participate in three follow-up workshops.

A program of the Grand Rapids-based Blandin Foundation, BCLP has provided experiential leadership training for more than 7,000 community leaders from nearly 500 rural Minnesota communities since it began in 1985.  This is the eighth time the community has participated in the BCLP leadership program.

Local residents participating in this training were:

Marijo Alexander, Gema Alvarado Guerrero, Maria Anderson, Katie Baskin, Pam Bishop, Craig Clark, Cheryl Collins, Coby Cost, Sheri Dankert, Santino Deng, Miguel Garate, Nygare Gilo, K’Pru Gold, Gareth Hataye, Holly Johnson, Keith Kleis, Jennie Knoebel, Steven Lang, Jen Lawhead, Richard Lemons, Shari Mason, David McKichan, Taggert Medgaarden, Juliana Pena-Marconi, Greg Siems and Jake Vela.

The goal of the Blandin Community Leadership Program is to develop and train a broad base of local leaders to build healthy communities. Topics covered during the retreat included: identifying and describing community issues and opportunities, effective interpersonal communication, building social capital, appreciating personality differences, managing interpersonal conflict, understanding community power, mobilizing community resources, and goal setting.

“A healthy community depends on leadership engagement of community members,” said Valerie Shangreaux, director of Blandin leadership programs. “The leadership demonstrated by these participants reflects their commitment to their community, as well as to the region and to rural Minnesota.”

The City of Austin and the Hormel Foundation collaborated with Blandin Foundation to make this BCLP training program available to Austin area residents.  

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Photo caption – Austin area

Participants in BCLP training Feb. 22-26 included:

Back Row: (left to right)- Maria Anderson, K’Pru Gold, Sara Schonwald (Trainer), Jennie Knoebel, Julie Steiff (Trainer), Juliana Pena-Marconi, and Vic Klimoski (Trainer)

Middle Row: (left to right)- Santino Deng, Pam Bishop, Jake Vela, Cheryl Collins, Gema Alvarado Guerrero, Jen Lawhead, Shari Mason, Katie Baskin, Sheri Dankert, Holly Johnson, and Richard Lemons

Front Row: (left to right)- Steven Lang, Greg Siems, Gareth Hataye, Taggert Medgaarden, Miguel Garate, Coby Cost, Keith Kleis, David McKichan, Nygare Gilo, Craig Clark, and Marijo Alexander