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

Willmar area residents complete Blandin Community Leadership Program retreat

Grand Rapids, Minn. — Twenty-five residents of the Willmar area returned September 19 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 December 2014 and February 2015.

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

Local residents participating in this training were:

Michael Anderson, Teresa Behm, Jim Butterfield, Anne Dybsetter, Loida Espinoza, Steve Gerberding , Sahra Gure, Brad Hanson, Anis Iman, Christie Kurth, Rick Lee, Zack Liebl, Zack Mahboub, Dean Madsen, James Miller, Arfon Mohamud, Jon Morales, Renee Nolting, Jeanette Oehlers, Abdullahi Olow, Chad Peterson, Jessica Rohloff, Connie Schmoll, Betty Strehlow, and Liz VanDerBill.

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 – Willmar

Participants in BCLP training  September 15-19 included:

Back Row: (left to right) – Sahra Gure, Zack Mahboub, and Steve Gerberding

Middle Row: (left to right)- Nehrwr Abdul-Wahid (Trainer), Mary Jo Wimmer (Trainer), Christie Kurth, Brad Hanson, Betty Strehlow, Jeanette Oehlers, Arfon Mohamud, Loida Espinoza, Zack Liebl, Jessica Rohloff, Anis Iman, Jim Butterfield, Dean Madsen, and Abdullahi Olow

Front Row: (left to right)- Theresa Stark (Blandin Foundation Staff Member), Chad Peterson, Teresa Behm, Liz VanDerBill, Jon Morales, Michael Anderson, James Miller, Renee Nolting, Connie Schmoll, Rick Lee, and Anne Dybsetter

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