A Little More on Leadership Laramie
Leadership Laramie is a program sponsored by the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance and utilizes the UW Cooperative Extension EVOLVE model. That’s a basic definition, what that doesn’t explain are the lifelong friendships formed, priceless skills developed and a great deal of involvement in the community that takes place for each Leadership Laramie class.
Every year a class of 24 students are chosen from a pool of applicants and go through a 9-month course of curriculum including classroom style learning and Community Based Experiences (CBEs). The next year those students turn around and design the course for the incoming class. Therefore, each class is a two-year commitment.
Katie Cook is in her second yeer of the program and is the chair of the 2017 Steering Committee. This means she helps lead her 2016-2017 class prepare lessons and CBEs for the 2017-2018 class.
“The second year, I think it’s my favorite, so far,” said Cook. “The awkward beginning is done and then, really, you just get to do what you love. You’re making sure the new class is having just as great, if not a better experience than you had the past year.”
And most participants would agree that the overall experience is worth the commitment.
“I was able to make connections, and I’ve networked all around those,” said Kendle Dockham, Ivinson Memorial Hospital Marketing Director. “It’s great going to a professional event, like LCBA’s business after hours and knowing so many people there.”
Dockham, a 2014-2015 class graduate, said she knows these connections will stick with her along with the lifelong friendships she has made.
“It’s such a rewarding program,” said Dockham, “It was so beneficial for me.”
Networking and getting to know the Laramie Community is just one of the many benefits from going through the program. And other participants throughout the years have benefited similarly.
“It was the springboard to me being nominated and serving on the Laramie Area Chamber of Commerce, now the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance Board of Directors,” said Tyler Valentine, CEO/President of Laramie Plains Federal Credit Union. “Also, I now serve on the Hospice of Laramie Board of Directors due to networking in Leadership Laramie.”
Valentine was a graduate of the 2009-2010 class. He encourages other community members to participate because of the EVOLVE model base, skills taught and the Community Based Experiences. He said this gives participants a well-rounded approach to leadership in Laramie since they learn about the community they live and work in.
Community Based Experiences happen at almost each session the classes meet. For example, they will go to the Laramie Soup Kitchen and volunteer to help make a meal, or they will go to a local screen printer to see that process of work, or visit local retail shops to see the behind the scenes. CBEs help classes make connections with the owners and established community members along the way.
Another essential of the program is partnering with a community non-profit. Cook’s class partnered with Whiting High School to start a food pantry that will sustain itself for at least four to five years.
“It’s not something where you do the project and everyone forgets about it,” said Cook. “Our focus was to get enough funds for this to sustain itself so then the community would back it. We had a big fundraising event and actually ended up raising over $17,000.”
Cook said every year and situation is different with each class and she is excited to see what the 2017-2018 class does for its partnering opportunity.