REDWOOD FALLS — Southwest Initiative Foundation’s Growing Local: Emerging Leaders program recently graduated its first cohort of 14 participants. This leadership education program supports emerging leaders in southwest Minnesota and is a partnership with University of Minnesota Extension.
Cohort participants included Ben Dempcy, Granite Falls; Marissa Brown, Lamberton; Hsa Mu and Joyce Tofte, Marshall; Khrystyna Lupkes, Round Lake; Olivia Maertens, Spicer; KaZoua Thao and Ambar Travino, Tracy; Maria Munoz and John Salgado Maldonado, Willmar; Laura Estudillo Craviotto, Windom; and Than Than Kyaw, Maria Peters and Suree Sompamitwong, Worthington.
Growing Local: Emerging Leaders provides tools and resources for participants to build their confidence and empowers them to shape the future in southwest Minnesota communities. The cohort met monthly from April through September and discussed leadership development topics.
University of Minnesota Extension educators Kimberly Guenther and Jennifer Aranda led conversations on self-awareness, strengths, teamwork, board governance, community readiness, cultural insights, committee effectiveness, conflict resolution and inclusion.
“One of the biggest ways to impact a community is to focus on leadership development. There is great potential in this group of energetic up-and-coming leaders. I was very proud to work with this cohort, and I look forward to watching them continue to learn, grow, and lead in southwest Minnesota,” Guenther said.
Khou Lor coordinates Growing Local: Emerging Leaders as part of her role at SWIF. Lor serves as the foundation’s Rural Equity Specialist and is a resource for communities across the region, while helping build and strengthen local Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) leaders and organizations in southwest Minnesota.
“We were able to build great relationships in this group. I’m happy we could connect and create a space that brought value to these emerging leaders,” Lor said.
Her goal in nurturing these leaders is for communities to be able to invite fresh perspectives, have boards and commissions that reflect the make-up of their communities and invite the intention of belonging in a community space.
The final Growing Local: Emerging Leaders gathering at the Redwood Falls Community Center focused on celebrating and encouraging cohort participants.
Southwest Initiative Foundation is a nonprofit community foundation connecting people, investing in ideas and building communities to create a southwest Minnesota where all people thrive. Learn more at swifoundation.org.