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Image: Image for News Item: Owatonna area residents complete Blandin Community Leadership Program retreat

Owatonna area residents complete Blandin Community Leadership Program retreat

Grand Rapids, Minn. — Twenty-six residents of the Owatonna area returned April 11 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 July and October 2014.

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 fourth time local residents have participated in the BCLP leadership program.

Local residents participating in this training were:

Salad Ali, Daryl Bail, Mike Beckman, Matt Bissonette, Holly Byrne, Matt Durand, Melinda Estey,  Ben Flemke, Cindy Halvorson, Alonso Hernandez, Keith Hiller, Ibrahim Hussein, Dave Klawiter, Troy Klecker, Jennifer Libby, Lory Mendez-Hernandez, Jolayne Mohs, Vicki Olivo, Peng Olson, Brooke Schroht, Mark Sebring, Teri Steckelberg, Kim Schaufenbuel, Kamal Therabi, Christy Tryhus, and Lori Weisenburger.

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 – Owatonna

The group of Owatonna residents who recently completed the Blandin Community Leadership Program (BCLP) would like to express its gratitude to the Blandin Foundation and the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) for the opportunity to attend the leadership retreat. Over the course of the week, we learned about the eight dimensions of a healthy community, the core competencies of community leadership (framing ideas, building and using social capital, and mobilization), and the tools needed to help develop and sustain a healthy community. In learning these skills, we worked intensely with one another building strong relationships we can now use here in Owatonna. Although many of us had not met before, we quickly learned what a diverse and gifted group to which we now belonged. We want to thank those who selected us to attend this program and made this retreat possible. We take the work we have done together seriously and we want to use the skills we have learned on behalf of Owatonna for many years to come.

Participants in BCLP training  April 7 – 11 included:

Back Row: (left to right) – Lory Mendez-Hernandez, Vicki Olivo, Peng Olson, Teri Steckelberg, Alonso Hernandez, Kim Schaufenbuel, Holly Byrne, Ann Glumac (Trainer), and Nehrwr Abdul-Wahid Trainer)

Middle Row: (left to right) – Kamal Therabi, Salad Ali, Lori Weisenburger, Mike Beckman, Troy Klecker, Melinda Estey, Matt Bissonette, Daryl Bail, and Keith Hiller

Front Row: (left to right) – Ben Flemke, Brooke Schroht, Matt Durand, Ibrahim Hussein, Jennifer Libby, Christy Tryhus, Mark Sebring, Jolayne Mohs, Cindy Halvorson, and Dave Klawiter

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