Think you know everything there is to know about Santa Fe? Do your goals include the betterment of the Santa Fe community at large? Are you on the fast track to becoming a big wheel in the clockwork mechanism that is civic leadership? Perhaps Leadership Santa Fe is for you. The program’s goal, in a nutshell, is to connect people like you with like-minded individuals, community leaders, and policy makers, and prepare you to help shape the future of Santa Fe. If this is your path, or you know somebody who could benefit from it, read on.
A successful leadership program initiated in 1983 – and formalized in 2009 under the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce’s non-profit wing, the Opportunities Fund – Leadership Santa Fe is designed for motivated people like you, who wish to learn more about the challenges facing Santa Fe and engage in the process of improving the community. It does so by combining interactive leadership skills training and an informative civic awareness curriculum over eight non-consecutive weeks from September through April.
“Whether you’re a newcomer to the community, or you’ve been around for a while, it’s easy to find yourself in a bubble,” says Leadership Santa Fe program manager and trainer David Markwardt. “One big part of Leadership Santa Fe is to get people out of their bubbles. So, if you work for a bank, you might find yourself interacting with a person from a nonprofit, or from the State of New Mexico. Often people who grew up in Santa Fe will say, ‘I’ve learned so much about my town that I had no idea about.’ It’s just a great way to interact and build relationships with people from other walks of life.”
Applications for the program are available on the website, and are taken in two phases, the first running March 1 through May 31, the second June 1 through July 31. Those who apply during the first phase are notified of their successful candidacy by mid-June. Second phase applicants are notified by mid-August. (A word to the wise: these classes fill up quickly, so applying early is the best way to avoid being put on a waiting list!)
Every month, during the program’s run, applicants meet one Friday and Saturday to discuss such important topics as economic development, climate change, sustainability, education, government, public safety, and more. There are no prerequisites, beyond a passion to create change for the better.
“We want a diverse range of people,” David says. “When the review committee is looking at applications, we want people who are motivated. We don’t want everybody all at the same levels. We want as diverse a class as possible. We have a guy in the class who has his own woodworking company. The City of Santa Fe’s Art Department is funding two artists that couldn’t ordinarily afford it. These are not even employees, they’re artists in the community who have an interest. We want them involved. We want 20-year-olds to 70-year-olds. It is a leadership program, so we’re expecting people to make a difference in the community.”
Making A Difference
David says there are many goals at play in Leadership Santa Fe. “There’s what you think you’re going to get out of it, and there’s what you do get out of it,” he says. If you go into it weighing cost benefits for your company or wondering how many important contacts you’re going to make, you may find yourself rethinking your strategy. “I think most people find that these things are not nearly as important as the opportunities presented. You’ll find yourself interacting with and hearing from people you might not have access to ordinarily. And what they have to say can be transformational.”
If this sounds like something you may be interested in, David encourages you to talk to people you might already know who have gone through the program. If you don’t know anybody personally, he and his people will happily put you in touch with somebody willing to talk about their experience.
“I think it keeps it more authentic if you talk to somebody who’s done it, and find out what they got out of it,” he says. “I’ve made extensive lists of people who have gone through the program. There’s probably somebody who has gone through the program at this point that you know.”
Ultimately, it all depends on you and what you want to get out of it. Progressive cities like Santa Fe rise to distinction on the shoulders of passionate and motivated individuals. But it’s not all hard work, and the benefits far outweigh the time spent going through the program.
“It’s a great program, that’s actually really fun,” David says. “It’s either group activities or good conversations. We encourage questions. We like it to be very interactive and conversational. We recognize that people have a lot of stress in their lives. We want to show them that being a leader doesn’t mean going it alone. We’re all part of the same community, and we have resources to help us make a difference by working together.”
To find out more about Leadership Santa Fe, visit the website, send an email to [email protected], or call (505) 204-8046. And don’t forget to keep those important dates in mind. Making a difference is all in your hands.This article was posted by David Salcido