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Gonzaga, city of Spokane team up on neighborhood leadership training

Courtesy of City of Spokane

Many of Spokane’s neighborhood leaders became involved in city government because they were passionate about something.

“We’ve had a dedicated group of volunteers that have been serving for a really long time. Bless their hearts. But it’s really time consuming and it’s exhausting and many of them are ready to pass the torch, but there’s no one else willing to step up, so they keep going," said Carly Cortright, the director of Spokane’s Office of Neighborhood Services.

She’s working with Gonzaga’s School of Leadership Studies, specifically, Rachelle Strawther, the director of Gonzaga’s Center for Lifelong Learning. They’re developing a five-month training program that will begin next month.

Strawther says the Spokane Neighborhood Leadership Academy will address specific areas where grassroots leaders can improve.

“One is really understanding how the city works so you can be effective as a neighborhood council leader. Two is how to make your neighborhood councils more welcoming and inviting to people of diverse backgrounds. And three, have essential leadership skills, just the ability to run meetings, manage conflict, all the things that people really need to be able to do to effectively work with volunteers," she said.

“Really, our hope is by developing the next generation of leaders, by giving them those skillsets to stay this is not as intimidating as you think it is, that they’ll be willing to take that torch and then fill in those roles," Cortright said.

The program has selected about a dozen participants. They’ll attend several Saturday half-day sessions and small group meetings led by mentors. The goal is to make the neighborhood leadership training an annual program.