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Image: Image for News Item: Marshall area residents complete BCLP retreat

Marshall area residents complete BCLP retreat

Grand Rapids, Minn. — Twenty-two residents of the Marshall area returned February 15 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 follow-up workshops in May and August 2013.

A program of the Grand Rapids-based Blandin Foundation, BCLP has provided experiential leadership training for more than 6,000 community leaders from more than 425 rural Minnesota communities since it began in 1985.  This is the fifth time local residents have participated in the BCLP leadership program.

Local residents participating in this training were:

Sarah Ackerman, Charlie Aufenthie, Allan Bakke, Brian-Paco Bertrand-Cyr, Travis Bestge, Tom Bolin, Erin Elchten, Michele Knife Sterner, Jay Lee IV, Kari Loft, Ben Martig, Faduma Masoliah, Jes Mellenthin, Matt Peterson, Tina Quinones, Jana Reilly,  Anna Runestad, Mike Runholt, Michael VanDrehle, Cindy Verschaetse, Scott Voss, Tricia Zimmer

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.”

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


Blandin Foundation works for vibrant rural Minnesota communities by investing in community leaders and working with partners to expand opportunity for all residents.  Located in Grand Rapids, Minn., it is one of only a handful of foundations in the U.S. focused exclusively on rural communities and the largest rural-based private foundation in Minnesota.  Information on Blandin Foundation grant-making, leadership development programs and public policy initiatives:


For additional information, contact:

Allison Ahcan, communications director   218-326-0523 

Twitter: @BlandinFound



Photo caption – Marshall

Participants in BCLP training February 11 – 15 included:

Back Row: (left to right) – Jana Reilly, Cindy Verschaetse, Anna Runestad, Nehrwr Abdul-Wahid (trainer) 

Middle Row: (left to right) – Travis Bestge, Charlie Aufenthie, Allan Bakke, Michael VanDrehle, Ben Martig, Sarah Ackerman, Matt Peterson, Faduma Masoliah, Michele Knife Sterner 

Front Row: (left to right) – Tom Bolin, Mike Runholt, Tina Quinones, Kari Loft, Brian-Paco Bertrand-Cyr, Julie Steiff (trainer), Jes Mellenthin, Tricia Zimmer, Erin Elchten, Scott Voss   


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