Tuesday, August 10, 2010

CRC Leaders Take Leadership to New Heights at the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center’s Executive Leadership Challenge Course

Now in its 21st year, CRC’s Colorado Nonprofit Leadership and Management Program is proud to sponsor a 3-day transformational experience for executive directors of Colorado nonprofit organizations. The following interview illustrates what it was like for one of our program participants.

Stephanie Stephens is the Executive Director of the Colorado Parks and Recreation Association (CPRA), a statewide membership association that provides education, support and recognition for parks and recreation professionals. You can reach her at 303.231.0943, by email at stephanies@cpra-web.org or via the web at www.cpra-web.org.

Before going, what were you expectations and perhaps hesitations about participating in this adventure?

When applying for the Leadership Program, I used this quote: “And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~ Anais Nin. The Challenge Course was the culminating event in my ‘blossoming’ as a stronger leader and as a more confident woman.

I came into the outdoor adventure with some hesitation... what would it be like sharing a ‘bunk’ with others I don’t know entirely well? What will the challenge course really be like? My expectations, though, were stronger than the hesitations. What a great opportunity to stretch my mind and body! And what a fabulous way to remove myself from day to day work craziness and just focus on my abilities and goals for the future of our association.

The adventure did not disappoint!

What were the highlights of your 3 day experience?

So many highlights…
Fellow leaders – There’s no better way to get to know some really fabulous people than to share a room, kitchen and dining table with them. Spending three days with Kara, Mary, Alisha, Julie, Carol, Jim, Leslie and all the others opened my eyes to new ways of thinking, and my heart to new friends. I now have a strong support group to call upon on those days when I just need someone to vent to who understands the world of non-profit leadership!

Rock Climbing – It still gives me goose bumps just thinking about this challenge! I came into the program expecting to take part in the ropes course on site at BOEC. I’ve done ropes courses before and was excited to try a new one. The day I learned we would be rock climbing, frankly, I cringed inside. Gravity loves this rather large backside of mine… how on earth was I going to haul it up a rock wall?!?! Needless to say, with much encouragement, a super support team around me, and a sound ‘I can do this’ attitude, I made it up the rock – twice! Repelling down was a bit more challenging: trusting the rope, my own strength, my support team and the universe; I made it off the blind drop and once again mastered the rock! The overwhelming feeling of accomplishment still inspires me to tackle big projects and challenges today. And I continue to hear my support team around me encouraging “just one more step, Stef.”

What are the most important things you have learned as a result of this opportunity?

#1 – I’m not alone. There are always folks around me to encourage, teach, and care for me; I need to seek out that encouragement, lesson and support from my peers, my Board, my friends and now my new Leadership Family.
#2 – Stop, breathe, pick a path and go… Just like when I was on the face of that (very high) rock, I need to take the time in my everyday life to stop and breathe, look at all of my options, then pick a path and go. No looking back. No procrastination. No ‘I can’t do this’ attitude. Pick a path and go.
#3 – Trust in myself, the team around me and the rope. Whether it’s balancing on a very (very) small ledge I was sure would not hold my big toe, let alone my entire body or choosing a path for our association’s future, I need to trust in myself that I’m making the best decisions I can make with the knowledge and information I have in front of me; trust that the team around me will support me; and hang on to that rope to stay firmly attached to that team and our collective goals.

What kind of impact will this experience have on you as a leader within your organization and community?

This was a very personal growth experience for me, stretching my mind (and body) beyond what I thought I could do. Having that new mindset, I’ve embarked on a few new challenges at the office already with a renewed sense of passion, confidence and willingness to ‘pick a new path and go’. I’ve been able to entrust duties to members/volunteers I once thought only I could do. I’ve employed the ‘stop and breathe’ method when projects have become overwhelming. I’ve called upon my new cohorts for advice, information and yes, just to invite them to come participate in a few of our fun events!

Would you recommend the Executive Challenge Course to other executive directors? Why or why not?

Only if they are willing to look at themselves in a new light, challenge their way of thinking and doing, enjoy making new friends and connections, have a love of adventure, appreciate good conversation over some really fabulous food, like to laugh, and yes, trust in rope!

Thank you for your interview Stephanie!CRC is accepting applications for the 2011 Colorado Nonprofit Leadership and Management Program. For more information click here or contact Carol Crawford at 303.623.1540 x13 or email

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Where in Colorado? August

Take a guess for a chance to win a copy of the Colorado Grants Guide.

Each month, we feature a photo taken during our travels around Colorado. Last month, we featured this photograph. Congratulations to Bob Mailander who was the first to correctly guess Gobbler's Knob, Prowers County in Southeast Colorado.

For this month's "Where in Colorado?" we are inviting guesses on a photo from a different part of Colorado.