Vail Centre graduates second class from Duke leadership program |

Vail Centre graduates second class from Duke leadership program

Ruth Peebles of Duke University was one of the instructors in a week-long course on nonprofit management sponsored by the Vail Centre.

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VAIL — Oie Osterkamp found his metaphor for leadership and potential while eating lunch with his family in Vail.

Osterkamp, the director of the Duke University Nonprofit Management Certificate Program held through the Vail Centre, looked at a gondola car headed up Vail Mountain and decided he and his family should ride it to the top of the hill.

Of course, the ride takes passengers only partway up the mountain. Leadership is like that, he said.

“What you think is the top is only a third of the way up,” Osterkamp told the group of program graduates at a Friday celebration at the Vail Golf Club.

‘An Amazing Opportunity’

This is the second year a group of nonprofit leaders have gone through the weeklong course. For this year’s graduation celebration, a number of graduates were on hand from the 2016 program.

Dana Dunbar, of the local Sherpa Foundation, was in that initial class, and said that experience was “an amazing opportunity.”

Dunbar said she learned more than just the basics and finer points of nonprofit management. Over the past year, she kept in contact with the instructors — all from Duke University — and was able to seek their counsel for problems, or simply to answer questions.

“People should really take advantage of these programs,” Dunbar said.

The Vail Centre programs bring in faculty from universities including Cornell, Yale, Duke, Dartmouth and the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business for weeklong courses that end with a certificate of completion on topics including nonprofit management, hospitality management and entrepreneurship. For the nonprofit management course, about half the participants came from the Vail Valley, with about 25 percent each from Denver and outside the area.

Those courses pack a lot of information into a little time and are far less expensive or time-consuming than standard graduate-level courses.

New tools, strategies

Roundup River Ranch Executive Director Ruth Johnson is one of the 2017 nonprofit management graduates and said this year’s course was a great experience, providing new tools and strategies for management.

Beyond the classroom content, Johnson said participants are “inspired by your peers.”

“You have huge nonprofits and startups,” Johnson said. “Everyone is inspirational.”

That inspiration seems to last, too.

Addressing the group, Osterkamp said he sent emails to all of the 2016 graduates before this year’s session, asking those graduates to share what they’ve learned and what they’re still using in their organizations.

“Only three people didn’t respond,” Osterkamp said.

Ripple Effect

The Vail Centre has pledged to have $25,000 in scholarships available for every certificate course offered. That means donations to help fund the Vail Centre’s scholarship programs are an investment that pays off with a ripple effect in the community, Vail Centre director Ross Iverson said.

Those ripples in area nonprofits may echo for some time. One of those ripples reflects an essential truth for both nonprofits and other organizations.

When Osterkamp reminded the group, “People don’t buy what you do,” the group answered as one, “they buy why you do it.”

People who keep that in mind are on the road to success.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, and @scottnmiller.

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