Program guides participants on how to play a more active role in their community by equipping them to respond to current and future challenges.
A community’s quality of life and economic success can often be measured by the caliber of its business and civic leaders. In Castle Rock, CO, strong leaders are in great supply, thanks to a program the area’s chamber of commerce launched back in 1999.
Leadership Douglas County grooms participants to play an active role in strengthening the community by broadening their knowledge of government and social organizations and equipping them to respond to both current and future community challenges.
“Each class is exposed to several different leadership skills and is given access behind the scenes of many aspects of the county, including history, open space, health care, social services, philanthropy, civic engagement, economic development, education, libraries, water resources, law enforcement, fire and emergency services, arts, culture and media,” says Sue Turner, program manager for Leadership Douglas County.
“It teaches participants why and how decisions are made. They learn servant leadership through their class projects and go from a diverse group of individuals to a cooperative team where everyone contributes.”
Connecting With the Castle Rock Community
Jen Perry of think Marketability, a marketing consultancy, is a member of the 2021 Leadership Douglas County class. She notes that the program is essential for anyone looking to connect to their community.
“Whether you are new to the community or a Castle Rock native, Leadership Douglas County is an important passage for civically minded community members,” she says.
Learning to Lead in Castle Rock
The program challenges participants to examine their leadership style, values and impact, and it provides opportunities for networking with other influential people, businesses and service organizations.
“The connections made by participants become lifelong connections as well as strong friendships,” Turner says. “We’ve had multiple elected officials go through our program, and many others have gained new careers or career advancement that are Leadership Douglas County graduates.”
Laura Larson, vice president of development for the STRIDE Community Health Center, is a graduate of the program’s 2019 class and co-chair of the 2021 class.
“One important thing that I took away from my participation was the connections with my other classmates,” she says. “There were so many different people with unique skill sets and knowledge and areas of leadership that it created a really great synergy.”
Leaving a Legacy for Castle Rock’s Future
Each class leaves behind a legacy project that is meant to benefit the Castle Rock community. Larson’s class, for example, worked with a local organization to raise more than $30,000 for school food pantries.
“The community benefits from having a well-educated workforce in the inner workings of the county and municipalities as well as through the class projects,” says Turner, who adds that class projects have ranged from funding suicide prevention programs to building a 9/11 monument using steel from the World Trade Center.