The last few years have reinforced the need for leadership that is based on empathy and a true partnership between decision-makers and those whom the decisions will impact — an emphasis on listening that challenges the longstanding “solitary individual” model of leadership.
Leadership Upper Valley (LUV), which began more than 15 years ago, is evolving to meet current needs. In partnership with a strong advisory board and the Upper Valley leaders who help plan LUV’s 10 sessions, I’ve continued the curriculum review begun in 2022, made some updates during the 22-23 session and will continue that work into the future.
These changes hope to increase the relevance of LUV, addressing the intersecting issues facing the Upper Valley that were laid bare by the last few years. Two examples offer a window into these changes: Opening Day, LUV alum and Advisory Board member Angy Zhang, Program Director at LISTEN, asked participants to reflect on when they have and have not felt at home in the Upper Valley, a theme that helps frame the year. Education Day focuses both on the varied programming that local schools offer, but now includes a panel that addresses students’ larger needs, including mental health and food and/or housing insecurity.
Other behind-the-scenes changes are helping shift the perspective of some sessions. The current group of people who are central to planning each day met this past summer to share ideas on how each day might inform the others, and how they might work together. In addition, we are working on lowering barriers to participation by seeking funding to reduce tuition for the program.
The 2023-24 cohort of 27 people were seeking a place where a wide range of people from the Upper Valley might discuss how they can help in their communities to address the intersecting issues that offer challenges and opportunities to the region. In a time when there are fewer opportunities for people who don’t know each other to gather in person and get to know each other, this legacy program in its simple format seeks to take on a new relevance.
Learn more at vitalcommunities.org/leadership
John Drew, Programs Director, Vital Communities, and LUV Program Manager
Published October 20, 2023