Posted on September 3, 2021
| 2:34 p.m.
Leah-Genevieve Combs, left, Human Resources Supervisor, Family Service Agency, shares a laugh with Mario Mendez, Program Manager, Wilderness Youth Project. (Courtesy photo)
The eighth cohort of the Leading From Within Emerging Leaders program marked the culmination of their nearly one-year training in leadership development with an outdoor celebration on August 27 at Foundation House in Santa Barbara.
Nineteen local nonprofit leaders completed the program that connects, supports and develops social sector leaders in Santa Barbara County. Professionals work in organizations tasked with solving some of the region’s biggest challenges, from homelessness and food insecurity to educational inequalities and environmental issues.
Leading From Within invests in these leaders so that they can better serve their organizations and amplify their ability to solve critical issues that impact our community.
“Leader of the Interior has become such a power in the entire Santa Barbara community,” said Jackie Carrera, president / CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation. “This cohort is the heart and soul of the organization’s leadership development programs.
In her opening remarks, Carrera encouraged graduates to always remember how they felt when they started the program: “During your career, look around and be sure to keep an eye out. people who are talented and accompany you, giving them the same type of opportunity that you had, ”she said.
Emerging Leaders is a 10 month (one day per month) program that brings together a selected cohort of emerging leaders from the county’s social sector and guides them through a rigorous, relevant and applied program with support to forge connections with peers, mentors and community leaders. .
The program is designed to help participants increase their leadership impact in their organization, the social sector and the community at large.
Due to Covid restrictions, the program has moved to a hybrid format, with most meetings taking place through Zoom. The closing ceremony marked just the second time the class had met in person.
“We were all thirsty for that connection during Covid,” said Leah Genevieve Combs, human resources supervisor at the Family Service Agency. Combs served as master of ceremonies with fellow graduate Bethany Sutherland, executive director of the Goleta Education Foundation.
“We are deeply grateful to the Leading From Within team for believing in our cohort and the potential of the program to operate virtually,” said Combs. “We are here because the supporters believed in this program, and we have succeeded thanks to the strength of the partnership of our wonderful leaders.
The group leaders were Miles Ashlock, chief of staff for student affairs at UCSB; and Katya Armistead, Assistant Vice Chancellor / Dean of Student Life at UCSB and Board Member.
“It was an incredible group of leaders who made the decision to be there, despite the virtual setting,” Armistead said. “I am touched by their growth and vulnerability, and encouraged by their ability to quickly form genuine and deep bonds. “
The class embraced the theme of infinity, symbolized by their cohort – # 8 – and adopted the motto “infinite possibility, infinite impact”.
“Although we mark the end of our journey, this end is really only the beginning; the possibilities and opportunities are endless, ”said Sutherland.
Each of the graduates honored another graduate with a personal reflection of their character and the award of a floral crown headgear.
“The personal remarks are a testament to how much we have grown, learned and enjoyed about each other,” Sutherland said.
“I gained a lot of self-confidence,” said Eva-Maria Catalan, head of the Youth Wellness Coalition, Future Leaders of America. Catalan was one of three in her cohort to have a baby while participating in the program, and she said the instruction on setting boundaries was particularly meaningful.
Sabrina Freidenfelds, founder of Then Comes Baby, said her experience was “validating, confirming and invigorating”. She described the Emerging Leaders training as “a beacon of the way forward in difficult situations”.
“There’s the formal leadership program with a defined curriculum that we’ve learned so much from, but more than that it’s about community, connection, and introspection,” Combs said. “I’ve learned more about myself over the past year than I thought possible.”
“I feel like we’ve started a family,” Sutherland said. “There are seven cohorts that have come before us in the nonprofit sector, and the importance of having this network of alumni to call upon is invaluable. Our relationships extend beyond our group – we have gained unity within the community.
The members of Cohort 8 of Emerging Leaders 2020-21 are: Annie Vu, Direct Relief; Bennett Rock, Explore Ecology; Bethany Sutherland, Goleta Educational Foundation; DeeDee Conrad, then comes baby; Erin Gardner, Allan Hancock College Foundation; Eva-Maria Catalan, Future Leaders of America; Franky Viveros, Jacquelyne Alexander, Santa Barbara County; Jamie Creason, Sansum Diabetes Research Institute; Jesus Lopez, Santa Barbara County Food Bank; Julia Daly, Santa Barbara County Bureau of Arts and Culture; Julissa Pena, Santa Barbara County Immigrant Legal Defense Center; Leah-Genevieve Combs, Family Services Agency; Mario Mendez, Wilderness Youth Project; Michelle Sevilla, Assembly bureau member Steve Bennett; Nathalie Keller, Santa Barbara County Foodback; Nicki Parr, Women’s Economic Enterprise; Sabrina Freidenfelds, Then comes baby; and Samantha Alvarez, The Reach Fellowship.
Program and event sponsors include the Santa Barbara Foundation, Angell Foundation, Ann Jackson Family Foundation, Montecito Bank & Trust, Apiary Ciderworks & Meadery, Brewlab, Buena Onda and Katya Armistead.
To learn more about how to support or apply for the Emerging Leaders program, visit www.leading-from-within.org.