HOOKSETT, N.H. – With more than 100 attendees representing 50 communities, this year’s group of ROC Leadership Institute graduates is inspired and ready to bring home what they learned this weekend.
The event started off with a celebration of community successes over the last year as ROC Leaders introduced themselves to their peers. These successes ranged from increased volunteerism to infrastructure projects to installing solar in communities.
“No one speaks better to what’s possible in neighborhoods than the people who are doing it,” said ROC USA® Founding President Paul Bradley.
This was the first Leadership Institute for many.
“I’m happy to be here, happy to learn,” said Sheila Domingue, Board Vice President of Oak Hill Acres Cooperative in Hinsdale, N.H.
Those who came last year were excited to enhance what they learned in the prior sessions. Kathy Zorotheos, President of the Oak Hill Taunton Residents Association Board, said one of her biggest lessons was the importance of collaboration with her peers. After she returned home from 2018 Leadership Institute, she and other Members of the Board went out to visit the five ROCs closest to hers.
“That was a really good takeaway – to see how other do it so you can compare and learn,” she said.
The three-day event was filled with workshops and learning labs, all focused on helping those in attendance enhance their skills and gain new ones to benefit their communities.
Sessions covered topics like effective communication, business basics, building a community brand, infill strategies, emotional intelligence and conflict resolution, visiting a local ROC and facilitating group decision making.
The event also helped to enforce how vital the ROC Movement is in securing affordable housing and empowering leaders in these communities.
“I think it was the best thing we ever did,” said Frank Cuddy, Board President of Hillcrest Estates in Middleborough, Mass.
This year included a first-ever track entirely in Spanish. Both CASA of Oregon and ROC Northwest have held trainings taught entirely in Spanish over the last year, as a way to be more inclusive with the trainings.
“We’re excited,” said Erick Hernandez Jaimes of Horizon Homeowners Cooperative in McMinnville. “We have great ideas.”
The learning kicked off and ended with two group exercises: the Wisdom Cafe and Open Space Learning. These two activities allowed attendees to figure out what they wanted to learn about most from the courses they were taking as well as brainstorm how they can apply what they learned to the work they do in their ROCs.
The ROC Leadership Institute is modeled after NeighborWorks® America Community Leadership Institute. This national training event aims to strengthen the voices and skills of volunteer leaders from resident-owned communities. Participants attend with other members from their ROCs and other ROC leaders from across the country.
The first ROC Leadership Institute was held in 2018, creating a blueprint for success that will be replicated for years to come.With a goal of educating ROC Members of how their model fits into the greater cooperative sector, visitors and speakers from the sector joined the event. Howard Brodsky, co-CEO of CCA Global Partners, was this year’s keynote speaker, talking about his company, which has a cooperative business model that empowers thousands of entrepreneurs and small business owners worldwide. More than 2,800 locations worldwide work with CCA Global through its 14 different businesses.
[Some quotes have been translated.]