Growing Community Leaders: Introducing the 2024 CLA Cohort

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In April, we launched the 2024 Cohort of the Community Leadership Accelerator.  Twenty people from across Arizona, working in areas including food systems, justice, immigrant and refugee rights, literacy, youth development, government, and others, convened in Ajo, AZ, at the Sonoran Desert Inn and Conference Center to kick off a 6-month program to develop courageous and resilient leaders who can lead from a different, more sustainable, leadership model. I’m excited for you to meet our cohort here!

The 3-day opening retreat is always an exciting and warming time as we meet and connect in community to learn and grow together.   When people sign up for the program, we ask them why they want to participate and what they hope to get out of it.  And then in the retreat, they share something with the group about why they came.  Motivations vary for participating, and some themes arise, too.  Here are some of the more common ones:

  • Personal Growth and Development: Many participants are motivated by a desire for personal growth and self-improvement. They aim to develop their leadership skills, gain confidence, and become more self-aware.
  • Community Impact and Engagement: A significant number of respondents are driven by the desire to make a positive impact in their communities. They want to learn how to better serve and lead their communities, create spaces for collaboration, and address community issues.
  • Leadership Skills and Networking: Participants are interested in acquiring specific leadership skills and expanding their professional networks. They see the program as an opportunity to learn about power dynamics, relationship-oriented leadership, and strategic organizing.
  • Addressing Burnout and Emotional Intelligence: Some participants highlighted their struggles with burnout and the need to maintain empathy and emotional intelligence in their leadership roles. They hope the program will help them balance compassion and leadership responsibilities.
  • Professional Development and Career Advancement: Several individuals mentioned that their interest in the program is driven by professional development and career advancement. They want to enhance their management skills and become more effective in their current roles.
  • External Recommendations: Some respondents noted that their interest in the program was influenced by recommendations from their workplace or supervisors.
  • Desire for In-Person Learning: In this age of virtual connection, some participants expressed a preference for in-person learning experiences over online courses, indicating a desire for more interactive and engaging learning environments.

Participants also mentioned specific skills and attributes they hope to develop through the program, such as:

  • Healthy Boundaries
  • Clear Communication
  • Emotional and Social Intelligence
  • Confidence and Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
  • Problem Solving and Decision Making
  • Work/Life Balance

These themes highlight the diverse motivations and expectations of individuals, organizations, and movements interested in the Community Leadership Accelerator program.  And if this cohort is like previous ones, they will walk away well-equipped in these areas.  Keep an eye out for these growing leaders as they offer their power and presence to meaningful change in our communities!

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