Friday, January 13, 2012

Roanoke City partners with Virginia Cooperative Extension to offer leadership program

Innovative Leadership Program “Train the Trainer”

For many years now the city through Neighborhood Services has offered a twice a year Leadership College program. A free 9-week course for citizens to learn how their city works and who does what. It takes a lot of time and people to keep a city vibrant, clean and safe.

It teaches citizens “how to access city services and become a resource for others within their community circles,” said Bob Clement the Neighborhood Services Coordinator.

Now the city in partnership with the Virginia Cooperative Extension is taking it one step further with the Innovative Leadership Program. The $65 program is offered free to Leadership College graduates.

It all started at the 2010 Statewide Neighborhood Conference held in Roanoke. Dr. Martha Walker, Community Viability Specialist with VCE held a workshop that inspired Stephen Niamke of the Melrose-Rugby neighborhood to lobby for the program in Roanoke.

Clement was already looking for a way to take Leadership College to the next level.

Last Thursday was a “train the trainer” class for seven individuals “representing a diverse group throughout the community” said Dr. Walker. They will present six modules through the six-week program starting February 9.

A letter was sent out to all 469 Leadership College graduates on January 3 and the 25 seats in the class filled up in a week. There are nine more on a waiting list. “I will have enough people waitlisted from this program that will fill the next one. This shows how people in Roanoke want to be engaged,” said Clement.

Dr. Martha Walker, Community Viability Specialist

Dr. Walker said the program “teaches the language and process of leadership.” It teaches participants how to network with each other and discover new facts about their community. They then can identify ways to improve or fill found gaps. “It prepares every community to be well positioned for economic development. It strengthens that community foundation.”

Clement said the graduates of the Innovative Leadership Program coupled with the city’s Leadership College program prepares an individual “to become literally a leader in any endeavor they decide to go into – a neighborhood group, a nonprofit organization, a business or even an elected official.

“It’s more about the nuts and bolts of how a leader leads,” said Braxton Naff a member of Roanoke Neighborhood Advocates.

Dr. Walker explained that there is no one option – there has to be multiple ways to develop individuals.

The program includes a project that participants will be required to complete. It will start with a community assessment review that will identify a gap in the community. They will research how to fill the gap by analyzing the accumulated data. Dr. Walker gave examples of past projects. One was to fill the need for a reading program for disadvantaged children. Another was a search for retail outlets where none existed.

Guests from the city will be invited to hear their presentations. They will also be taught that “all stakeholders are not going to be for you,” said Dr. Walker. They’ll learn how to work with those who oppose them. The program will teach them how to approach the stakeholder differently a second time.

Naff explained that after completion of the program the participants could then on their own identify who in the community can implement it. They will take with them the program’s training methods that will empower them.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Community, Education, Local Events

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