Leadership Upper Valley is a 10-month professional and personal development curriculum that builds knowledge and networks to help local leaders succeed in and serve the Upper Valley. The program was created by Vital Communities, a nonprofit organization based in White River Junction, VT that brings together citizens, organizations, and municipalities in the Upper Connecticut River Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire, and is led by their Director of Development, Rob Schultz.
Over the term, participants from area small businesses, nonprofits, schools, municipalities, and some of the Upper Valley’s largest employers met to be immersed in a new topic each month, including housing, the arts, transportation, education, the justice system, and more. Each meeting allowed participants to experience the topic through a tour of introduction, a listening session or panel, and experiential learning. Additionally, the class was able to give back to their community through team service projects.
The class of 2018 included Shelter Staff Member, Bella Stachowski, and Director of Community Education and Volunteer Services, Amber Johnston. The Haven is lucky to have had Jennifer Fontaine, Director of Operations, participate in 2017, and Erin Wetherell, Coordinator of Children’s Services, joining the class of 2019. Amber enjoyed her time in the program and felt like it allowed her to extend her leadership role in the community. She shared, ” I grew up here [in the Upper Valley], but I learned so much. Each day was incredibly thorough and well planned; I developed alternative ways of thinking and made new connections, both personally and professionally. I found new ways to get involved and introduced others to opportunities available at the Haven that they might not have known about.”
Kudos to Vital Communities for the development of such an exciting and important program to connect and inspire leaders in our community!