Its creation came about from a grant funding source, but more than that, from a well recognized need in the community to develop its leadership capacity, and so with an established framework, the first session of the Leadership Training Program in Poughkeepsie (in Spanish) was born, steered and developed from the beginning by HRH’s Community Development Coordinator Lindsay Duvall and Housing Navigator Jenny Coronel- who, using their own strong leadership skills, worked enthusiastically to identify and recruit participants, to develop curriculum and content for the workshops, and to request the qualified facilitators who guided each session. So though the program came together so naturally, I know it actually required a great deal of work from these two incredibly passionate and dedicated community development staff. They took the input from the Neighborhood Revitalization Committee and their own knowledge of the community in order to design and develop a program that fits the needs and wants of this community.
With the last class of the first session tonight, I think Lindsay and Jenny deserve congratulations and thanks for the program’s unequivocal success- I know the lessons learned, the discussions sparked, and the relationships formed as a result will be help immensely the next great community leaders advance their plans and positively affect more lives through their projects in Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County. So, the graduates are now better equipped to make their mark in the community; whether it be a local internet streaming radio show to new and exciting small business ventures taking off, their individual projects will be undertaken with greater confidence and will ultimately have more success than they might have otherwise.
One highlight of the course for many was the workshop that took place in City Hall where participants
learned all about government structure and function. Paul Hesse, Community Development Director for the City of Poughkeepsie, was there and participants were very happy to get to meet him, a representative of the local government, and have him answer some of their questions.
Tonight will feature a potluck, which I’m told might get emotional, as all the participants come together one last time as a class to each make their personal presentation, obtain their certificate and celebrate the accomplishment of finishing the course with family, friends and some of the past facilitators all present.
Although I was only involved in this program in so far as providing childcare for a few of the participants' children, I was close enough to the classroom each week to detect the insightful conversations, the powerful instruction, and the lasting impression these lessons and conversations will leave on the participants. Every class stretched beyond its 9 pm end time, not because of poor timing, but because everyone wanted to continue learning, to deepen their conversations and just catch up with each other. It was always a very positive and welcoming environment to walk into- I really think everyone felt comfortable opening up about what they hope to take away from the program and what they felt were their greatest challenges to overcome in order to accomplish their personal ambitious goals, and the one which they all shared: to develop the essential leadership skills to better confront the difficult issues as they arise, to effectively bring ideas for action to fruition with confidence, and to manage the many aspects of the project- so that eventually they can contribute something to the community in which they operate.