By Kaki Rusmore, Director Center for Nonprofit Excellence of the Community Foundation for Monterey County
For the past eight years, up and coming nonprofit leaders have honed their leadership and nonprofit management skills in the LEAD (Leadership Education and Development) Institute. Offered by the Center for Nonprofit Excellence of the Community Foundation for Monterey County, LEAD prepares successful managers in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties for organization-wide leadership roles.
Over 130 nonprofit staff have expanded their leadership because of LEAD Institute. After completing LEAD, some take positions of greater leadership in their organization or other nonprofits, some assume community leadership roles, and some take on new leadership in their current positions.
Recently, I had the opportunity to reconnect with LEAD graduate, Benjamin Bruce, over coffee.
Ben graduated in 2013. He is originally from Marina, came back as an AmeriCorps volunteer after college, and has been working with Community Partnership for Youth (CPY) for 15 years. CPY is a prevention program providing positive alternatives to gangs, drugs, and violence while reinforcing individual strengths.
While in LEAD, Ben worked on goals such as stronger project management and evaluation, and strengthening his Spanish. In reflecting on his steps since then, we talked about what it is like to go from being a program coordinator working directly with the youth to Program Director, a more administrative role, and now being considered for the ED position when the founding director retires in a few years.
“I am more comfortable now with taking on greater leadership at CPY. There is a lot to learn with the new responsibilities.” Ben Bruce, Program Director CPY
“What’s challenging is that I don’t want to lose touch with the youth we serve. We really get to see change in their lives. There are people who have come up through the program, are now on staff and we are working with their younger siblings.”
The LEAD Alumni Network
The network of LEAD alumni stretches from Monterey to Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties. Their vision is for healthy, connected leaders building healthy, connected communities.
The potential of this network is enormous. Research has shown that the most effective leaders have a strong support network, work collaboratively with others, and continue to learn. And these LEADers have a common background of effective, proven tools for community improvement.
I was curious about the role other LEAD alumni and peers might play in offering support for his leadership.
“Having a sense of community with others doing similar work. It can be isolating, so it means a lot to have people I can bounce ideas off of,” said Ben.
What’s Next for LEAD?
The Center for Nonprofit Excellence is committed to strengthen this network of leaders, and, in order to offer intentional support, the LEAD Institute will be on hiatus in 2018.
We are excited to begin working with these LEAD alumni leaders as they define the network’s next steps. We’ll resume recruitment for the 2020 LEAD cohort in June 2018, and are always interested in hearing suggestions of potential participants. (Let us know if you have candidates who might benefit from the program).
This pause will also offer time to reconnect with other alumni, hear their stories and reflect on what’s been learned about supporting leadership development in our area.
We will apply what we learn to the shape of LEAD in 2020 and beyond.
“It’s an honor to work with this talented group of people that are committed to helping their communities thrive. We look forward to seeing the varied possibilities they will pursue for their fellow alumni and our region.” – Kaki Rusmore, CNE Director