Photo by Mikael Kristenson on Unsplash
La Luz Leadership Program Impacts Leaders and Community
Having been a part of the Sonoma Valley community for almost 30 years and working with The Leadership Challenge® for over a decade, I felt compelled to step into a volunteer role with a non-profit organization that is providing an opportunity to merge two things I care about deeply–my community and great leadership.
La Luz Leadership Program is changing the lives of participants and the community in Sonoma, California. The program recently launched its fourth cohort with 13 program participants. It’s offered by La Luz Center, whose mission is to strengthen community through family services, economic advancement, and community engagement.
The program started with a vision by Sonoma businessman Sal Chavez after meeting Jeni Nichols, founder of Sonoma Leadership Systems, who I worked with from 2008 until 2016, when we merged with FlashPoint. The vision is to further integrate Latino leaders into the fabric of the Sonoma Valley community, especially the non-profit community. The program pairs leaders with mentors from local organizations to support them in an action learning project while they receive formal leadership training over the course of seven months using The Leadership Challenge®.
The Leadership Challenge is a best-selling, research-based leadership book by authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner now in its 6th edition. During the program, each participant receives the opportunity to participate in a 360-degree feedback assessment developed by the authors called the Leadership Practices Inventory® (LPI®). The report provides feedback about which leadership behaviors they can benefit from working on to be a better leader.
Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge® is Daren Blonski, a Certified Leadership Challenge Facilitator. Daren is a Certified Financial Planner who volunteers because he is passionate about leadership development and appreciates this opportunity to give back to the community where he works. He says, “The participants in this program sign up because they want to learn and participate. It makes it easy to want to support their commitment to their own development.”
Since the program’s inception, 13 non-profits have directly benefited through the mentoring program and 6 past participants are now serving on non-profit boards. It’s clear to see that not only do participants benefit, they are so touched that it drives them to give back to future participants by helping organize the program.
This year, the cohort will be working on a group project to support the 2020 Census count so that all members of our community are counted. The leaders will have the opportunity to work on the Census project with other leaders and in partnership with their mentor, coming away with enhanced self-awareness and confidence.
La Luz Center’s Community Engagement Manager, Angie Sanchez, participated in the second cohort which graduated over two years ago. Since then, she has been committed to the program and has taken the reins as program leader. She said, “I am very excited to be able to help lead this new group of emerging Latino leaders especially with the efforts around the 2020 Census. Who better than Latinos from our own community to make a lasting impact by helping other Latinos be counted in one of the most important and inclusive civic engagement activities in our country?”
I’ll be stepping into the role of coordinating the mentor relationships. Several Executive Directors from local non-profits have committed to partner with an emerging Latino leader in their development process and I'll match them with each other. I’m looking forward to supporting these leaders in their growth and working with the local non-profits who contribute to their experience.