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

Pipestone area residents complete Blandin Community Leadership Program retreat

Grand Rapids, Minn. — Twenty-two residents of the Pipestone area returned January 31 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 July 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:

Laurel Berg, Kyle Caskey, Brian Douty, John Draper, Debra Fitzgerald, Naomi Gearhart, Reggie Gorter, Dawn Heidebrink, Rona Johnston, Laurie Merrill, Jon Olson, Nancy Oye, Kevin Paulsen, Tim Paulson, Kris Ploeger, Cynthia Portz, Jason Prinsen, Dale Roemmich, Vanda Smrkovski, Marty Wallin, Dan Wildermuth, and Rob Woodbury.

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:


Photo caption – Pipestone

Participants in BCLP training  January 27-31 included:

Back Row: (left to right)- Dale Roemmich, Jon Olson, Kevin Paulsen, Dan Wildermuth, Kyle Caskey, and Jason Prinsen

Middle Row: (left to right)- Roxanne DeLille (Trainer), Kris Ploeger, Brian Douty, Laurel Berg, Nancy Oye, Dawn Heidebrink, Reggie Gorter,  Laurie Merrill, Nehrwr Abdul-Wahid (Trainer), and Tim Paulson

Front Row: (left to right)- Rona Johnston, Cynthia Portz, Marty Wallin, Debra Fitzgerald, Vanda Smrkovski, Rob Woodbury, Naomi Gearhart, and John Draper

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