For two decades, the El Pomar Foundation has been helping ethnically diverse Pikes Peak area residents learn to be leaders in their work and volunteer work.
A revamp of the Emerging Leaders Development Program, to mark its 20th anniversary, will have an even greater impact on the community, officials say.
The program’s new name, Elevating Leadership Development, shows that “we’re not just emerging, we’re elevating now,” said Zuleika Johnson, El Pomar’s vice president of opportunities and outreach.
As an alumnus of the program, Johnson said she knows that increasing diversity in civic engagement and leadership not only benefits the participants, but also the whole community.
“The challenges facing leaders of color today are different than they faced 20 years ago, and so are the organizations they work for and the boards they hope to serve on. “, she said. “It’s a different environment, and I wanted to invite more people to the table.
“We can make our community stronger when we work together, and by having diverse voices at the table, we can have different perspectives that allow us to make decisions for the communities we serve that are best for them.
The core of the program remains: to provide full scholarships to Black, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Native American adults to participate in leadership training programs, such as the Colorado Springs Leadership Institute, Leadership Pikes Peak, the Center for Creative Leadership. and Pueblo Leadership.
What’s new is that El Pomar, one of Colorado’s largest and oldest grantmaking foundations, is identifying and responding to the needs of leaders of color, Johnson said. This includes providing workshops on requested topics and assistance through partnerships with local businesses and non-profit organizations.
The program has focused on placing diverse people on boards in the region, which remains a key aspect.
Now, “We want to continue to connect with leaders of color and give them the skills to serve on boards and embrace leadership principles — not just about board participation,” Johnson said.
Another long-standing feature of the program is also available. Online profiles of approximately 500 program participants, broken down by skills, are provided to organizations and companies seeking potential leaders.
After graduating from college and securing a career-related position, adults of color can join the Leadership Development Program for free. Johnson calls it “a lifelong learning opportunity”, which in addition to training also provides access to professional networks.
“We try to meet each participant individually where they are,” she said.
Career early risers will learn what it means to serve on a board, the role of governance and fiduciary responsibility, Johnson said, and those who are ready will be introduced to board service.
The Pikes Peak area is one of the few in the state and nation to offer such leadership building, said Martin Trujillo, co-chair of the Colorado Springs Hispanic Advisory Council and ambassador for Elevating Leadership Development.
“It gives these individuals the opportunity to not only understand themselves, but also to understand how the community works, how the legislation works, how the decision-making by councils and offices works and how it all works together” , did he declare.
People generally decide to serve their community because they care and want to give back, Trujillo said, but they don’t necessarily have the tools to do so.
“That’s the mainstay of the program: to generate and perpetuate these individuals to progress in the community,” he said.
“Overall, the program is a rare find.”
Johnson said she hopes the upgrades will increase participation and the effort will create stronger ties with colleges and universities, for example.
“We would like to expand and strengthen what we do through community partnerships,” she said.
The next public meetings on the El Pomar programs will be held at 11:30 a.m. on April 13 at the Pueblo Center for American Values and at 5:30 p.m. on April 19 at the Penrose House in Colorado Springs.
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