Vail Daily column: Valley’s in good hands |

Vail Daily column: Valley’s in good hands

Don Rogers
Vail, CO Colorado

I left the discussion between kids and leaders feeling very good about our community.

Great, thoughtful questions about the challenges of leadership, and great, thoughtful answers. It could have been 30 adults in the audience who would have benefited from the exchange, who would have paid gladly for the experience.

Only thing was I think the SOS Outreach teenagers were much better prepared, and possibly more thoughtful, than grownups invited to the Community Leader Panel last Thursday night would have been.

And more polite, no doubt, while asking the panel members such questions as their views on health care reform, how they made their toughest decisions, and my favorite: Who acts up more on the mountain, locals or tourists?

The kids ran the show, introducing the panel, later moving to breakout groups with each of six leaders you know or should know: John Garnsey, head of Beaver Creek and co-president of Vail Resorts’ mountain division; Sara Fisher, Eagle County commissioner; Jack Eck, doctor and member of the Vail Valley Medical Center board; Tom Moorhead, district judge; Joe Hoy, Eagle County’s sheriff; and Ross Morgan, member of the Eagle County School District board.

If the leaders had any ideas about talking down a level, as we sometimes do with kids, the maturity of the questions changed that right away.

They showed real hunger to understand community leadership and how leaders think.

And I didn’t see much holding back from the leaders. These are tough, tough times, and they did not shrink from acknowledging that fact.

The judge spoke frankly about learning from mistakes in earlier life, the doctor about life and death, the school board member about weathering financial crisis, the sheriff about the pain of layoffs, the ski executive about the same, and the commissioner about holding to core principles while making the toughest decisons.

No posturing, nothing artificial, neither a sense of false hope nor succumbing to doom. Just straightforward, frank and very real.

Wow. The kids – and I – got as good a lesson in leadership as any seminar I’ve attended.

And something more, since these are people whose judgment this community relies upon.

You can always quibble with an individual decision. I’m among the critics simply as part of my job. I’m talking about the heart and spirit in how they go about it.

You should have been there. The kids are all right, and at the community level, we’re in good hands.

Support Local Journalism