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Image: Image for News Item: Grand Rapids residents complete Blandin Community Leadership Program retreat

Grand Rapids residents complete Blandin Community Leadership Program retreat

Group joins largest group of alumni in the state

Grand Rapids, Minn. — Twenty-six residents of the Grand Rapids area returned January 30 from a five-day leadership retreat, the first segment of an intense eight-day training provided by the Blandin Community Leadership Program (BCLP). The group also will participate in follow-up workshops in May and July 2015.

A program of Blandin Foundation, BCLP has provided experiential leadership training for more than 6,500 community leaders from more than 400 rural Minnesota communities since it began in 1985. Participants travel from across rural Minnesota to participate in these retreats, all of which take place in Itasca County at Sugar Lake Lodge.

Local residents participating in this training were:

Katie Benes, Nathan Bergstedt, Liz Carlson, John Connelly, Tasha Connelly, Sarah Copeland, Kyle Erickson, Patty Erven, Sam Evans, Michelle Graber, Marlyn Halvorson, Heidi Holtan, Dale Majerus, Sean Martinson, Andy Morgan, Joni Namyst, Karen Noyce, Matt Prokop, Robbie Radaich, Lisa Randall, Jimmy Ranso, Dave Roerick, Corey Smith, Crystal Smith, Eric Trast and Mark Zimmerman.

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 Dr. Kathleen Annette, president and CEO for Blandin Foundation.  “The leadership demonstrated by these participants reflects their commitment to Grand Rapids, as well as to the vibrancy of the region and rural Minnesota.”

A commitment to local leadership

Itasca County-area residents have participated in more than 23 BCLP cohorts since the program began in 1985. More than 500 Itasca area residents, including 311 locally, are alumni of the program — the highest concentration of BCLP-trained community leaders in the state. Numerous others have participated in Blandin Foundation-led training on leadership in education, health care, economic development and poverty. This marks the second time BCLP has been invited to train a group specifically focused on the city of Grand Rapids, however.

“More than 80 residents applied for this round of training, confirming that interest here in community leadership remains very strong,” said Valerie Shangreaux, director of Blandin Foundation’s leadership programs.

“Vibrant, resilient communities like Grand Rapids grow from strong leadership,” Annette said. “We’re pleased to again offer BCLP here, and to stand with seasoned and emerging leaders as they imagine and claim the future.”

BCLP training programs are funded entirely by the Blandin Foundation, whose mission is to strengthen rural Minnesota communities, especially the Grand Rapids area.  

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