Leadership Santa Fe helps up-and-coming leaders develop high-level management skills and connects them to key players in Santa Fe’s business and policy spheres. Participants delve into challenges facing the city and actively engage in the process of creating solutions. The program takes place every year between September and May and consists of 12 sessions, about two per month. Alumni include Santa Fe City Manager Erik Litzenberg, Police Chief Andrew Padilla, and multiple City Council members and business leaders. We spoke with Program Director Valerie Alarid about LSF, its participants, and its value to the city and graduates. Applications are open through August and available here. There will be an informative kickoff celebration Monday, August 26, 5:30-7:00PM at Rio Chama Restaurant. RSVP required – register at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Could you give us a bird’s eye description of the program?
LSF has a civics and a leadership skills development portion. We focus on six topics: youth and education, economic development, government, energy and sustainability, health and public safety, and non-profits. We go into the whole community of Santa Fe, holding sessions at multiple venues. It’s a great way to get to know different businesses and connect with people in various sectors.
What are the most important takeaways for participants?
First, they learn so much about the community and fiber of Santa Fe. Both locals and newcomers tell us they gained insights into areas and issues they’d never considered before. Second, people learn about themselves. They cultivate new skills and discover strengths they often hadn’t realized they had. The program also creates a lifetime of strong professional and personal relationships. Participants leave knowing they can always reach out to this network.
What are the benefits to Santa Fe?
LSF aims to create leaders in many forms. We support rising business leaders that might go into upper management roles as well as people who are interested in public office. Participants move on with a practicable understanding of diverse facets of the city. This allows them to contribute and make a positive impact whatever area they choose to pursue.
Cohorts are usually around 30 people. We keep them small so that our trainers can give everyone the attention they deserve. Groups are diverse and balanced. There is an application process and a review committee accepts the top candidates. A lot of individuals are sent over by their business’ management team for training. We also have independent individuals who want to go into public service, learn more about Santa Fe’s vast non-profit scene, or start or grow their own business.
What are you most excited about for this year’s program?
I’m especially jazzed that the economic development session will feature Daniel Werwath, who focuses on affordable housing and community development in Santa Fe. There’s a coalition working on housing solutions for the city, and I’m hoping some of this year’s cohort will bite into that work. It’s an important issue for attracting and retaining talent for Santa Fe.
The program is $1,045 for the whole seven months. Sponsors underwrite about 80% of the budget. LSF thanks early committed 2019/2020 program sponsors Enterprise Bank & Trust, New Mexico Gas Company, Delta Dental, Journal North, Century Bank, State Employees Credit Union, and CHRISTUS St. Vincent.