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Leadership Summit encourages community participation, leadership

Kathryn Corazzelli
Summit Daily News
Special to the Daily The Leadership Summit class of 2011, during its field trip to the state Capital building. Participants were introduced on the floor and met with legislators.
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Colorado Mountain College’s Leadership Summit is heading into its seventh year of inspiring Summit County members to not only lead, but actively participate within the area.

The program was started in 2004 by a group of community-minded people and is “designed to create interest in enhancing leadership skills and then using those skills in the community to make Summit County a better place to live,” program administrator Suzanne Hyman said.

Participants must live or work in the county, and usually range in age from their mid-20s to their 70s. Some are already leaders and want to enhance their leadership skills, while others attend to enhance their community networking. Sometimes people sign up simply because they want to give back and know they’ll be introduced to decision-makers throughout the county, Hyman said.

The program takes place over nine months – from November to June – with one day-long session each month. Every meeting has a different focus: those could include community issues, local government, economy, education or public safety. The 15-20 students partake in training exercises, site visits, panel discussions and listen to local key decision-makers speak. Representatives from the Forest Service or Housing Authority might give them a real-life problem and have participants split up to discuss solutions. The program always ends with a field trip to the state capitol, where students spend the day on the floor mingle with lawmakers. Hyman calls the classes highly interactive situations.

“It’s case study, or simulation,” Hyman said. “It’s a combination of the experience of learning and practical knowledge.”

One of the people who helped create the program was former Frisco Mayor Bernie Zurbriggen. The classes serve a need and are continuously evolving into something better, he said.

In previous years, sessions always took place at Colorado Mountain College. But this year, each class will travel to various employer locations, who will then conduct tours and provide insight into their specialties. The change is a result of former students’ suggestions.

“We’re constantly re-energizing our program,” Hyman said.

For recent program graduate Chris John, the best part of the class was the focus on leadership development, an element missing from a similar program he took in Austin years ago. John, a semi-retired entrepreneur, keeps the principles he learned in mind while organizing plans for the three or four business concepts he has “on simmer” right now. He also applies them to his work in the Boy Scouts, an organization in which he has been heavily involved for years.

Students fell into three different categories, John said: governmental, nonprofit and private enterprise. For him, it was interesting to learn how the different groups viewed one another; everyone learned about the each other’s worlds and the issues they face.

“People should run, not walk to enroll in this program,” he said.


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