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Bemidji-area residents complete Blandin leadership retreat

Participants in Blandin Community Leadership Program training were, from left, Vic Klimoski (trainer), Chinwuba Okafor, Kris Hendricks, Annie Claesson-Huseby, Penny Echternach, Dave Hengel and Jordan Hickman; middle row from left, Roxanne DeLille (trainer), Mike Bredon, Mike Bakke, Casper Urbanek, Matthew Dyrdahl, Kristi Miller, Jason Douglas, Scott Turn, Dave Larson and Chris Vacek; front row from left, Rebecca Snyder, Leonore Potter, Jen Atteberry, Wendy Noren, Kristi Wells-Saiger, Rita Albrecht, Reed ...

In early April, 24 residents from the Bemidji area completed a five-day leadership retreat, the first segment of an intense eight-day training that comprises the Blandin Community Leadership Program. The team also will participate in follow-up workshops in June and September 2011.

Since 1985, BCLP has provided experiential leadership training for more than 5,700 community leaders from more than 380 rural Minnesota communities. This was the sixth cohort focusing on the Bemidji area. Participants represent all facets of the community.

The most recent BCLP participants were, from the Bemidji area cohort, Rita Albrecht, Jen Atteberry, Noemi Aylesworth, Mike Bakke, Ashli Bowen, Mike Bredon, Annie Claesson-Huseby, Jason Douglas, Matthew Dyrdahl, Penny Echternach, Lara Gerhardson, Dave Hengel, Jordan Hickman, Dave Larson, Kristi Miller, Wendy Noren, Chinwuba Okafor, Reed Olson, Leonore Potter, Rebecca Snyder, Scott Turn, Casper Urbanek, Chris Vacek and Kristi Wells-Saiger.

The goal of the Blandin Community Leadership Program is to develop and train a broad base of local leaders to build healthy communities. Topics covered during the retreat included: identifying and describing community issues and opportunities, effective interpersonal communication, building social capital, appreciating personality differences, managing interpersonal conflict, understanding community power, mobilizing community resources, and goal setting.

"A healthy community depends on leadership engagement of community members," said Valerie Shangreaux, director of Blandin leadership programs. "The leadership demonstrated by participants reflects their commitment to rural Minnesota."

BCLP training programs are supported entirely by the Grand Rapids-based Blandin Foundation whose mission is to strengthen rural Minnesota communities, especially in the Grand Rapids area. The program is made available free of charge to participants because of an $89,800 Blandin Foundation expenditure that covers all costs for food, lodging and tuition at the retreat and workshops.

Blandin Foundation, Minnesota's largest rural-based private foundation, is located in Grand Rapids, Minn. Its mission is to strengthen rural Minnesota communities, especially the Grand Rapids area, through grants, leadership development programs and public policy initiatives. The Foundation helps communities provide choice and opportunity for all, especially people facing social and economic challenges.

For details, contact Allison Ahcan, communications director, at 218-326-0523 or, or visit the website