A dozen and a half locals are Eagle County’s first graduates from a program designed to teach them how to create change in their families and communities.
The Family Leadership Training Institute graduates spent more than 120 hours to develop skills needed to become effective leaders in their communities.
The program is in 20 states and came to Colorado in 2009. Eagle County joined this year.
“The class works because it’s about learning to work with people different than you,” said Jeanne McQueeney, school board president who helped bring the program to the area.
They’re careful not to select people based on political affiliation or philosophy, McQueeney said.
Student goals ranged from astronomy to working with law enforcement.
In Eagle County, 45 people applied to be part of the program; 20 were selected and 18 finished. They meet once a week for 20 weeks, and they get childcare and dinner to make it as family friendly as possible, McQueeney said.
Eagle County graduate Ines Barcenas calls her experience “terrifying” and “transforming.”
“I’ve found my voice in FLTI,” Barcenas said. “When parents (family) become advocates, children’s lives are improved and anything is possible.”
Once recruited and accepted into the program, participants attend a 20-week curriculum that integrates personal and child development, leadership training, civic literacy and civic participation skills. The curriculum includes four components: an initial retreat, two 10-week sessions that focus on knowledge about the change process, skill building, and tools of civic engagement; and a community project.
Locally, the first 10 weeks focus on empowerment and change, taught by Julia Kozusko and Lisa Kunkel. The second 10 weeks focuses on civics; How do you effect change in your family, your organization, your community or state. Sara Fisher and Beth Riley taught that.
A community project is part of the program. Past graduates have push through new legislation, developed a state-wide resource directory, and found funding for weekly tutoring sessions for at-risk students.
Community projects this year range from autism awareness and outreach to Zumba classes for new mothers.