Friday, December 23, 2011

Our Extraordinary Man

"When I first started the program, I was afraid to take big risks, but that's no longer the case."  
- Rahul Bafna

If you need more proof that the Rahul BafnaMulticultural Leadership Program is paving the way for community leaders, look no further. MCLP alum Rahul Bafna was one of the five recipients of the Extraordinary/Ordinary Man of the Year Award. The award recognizes a handful of men for their efforts to improve the community. It's no question that Bafna is deserving of such an award. However his experiences in MCLP has giving him the boost that he needed.

In his own eyes, the Multicultural Leadership Program has helped Bafna develop not only as an individual and a professional, but more importantly, as a community leader. Aside from his work at State Farm, Bafna volunteers with Home Sweet Home Ministries and Westminster Village. Since graduating from MCLP in 2011, Bafna has taken on other community initiatives. He is a proud member of the Salvation Army Board and is an Advisory Board Member of the Bloomington Normal Aviation Scholar Chess Club. Bafna acknowledges the hard work and commitment it takes to be so active in the community.

He attributes much of his recent success to MCLP. "I learned how to use my courage and take risks. I had courage before but I learned how to use it the right way in order to influence people," said Bafna.

And influencing people is exactly what Bafna is doing. In the year prior to graduating from MCLP, he and  his wife collect 20 backpacks to help deserving children. After graduating from MCLP, he had the courage to dream bigger and to act on his dreams. He collaborated with community organization this year and has collected more than 200 back packs.

Bafna says he will always feel part of MCLP. He continues to play an active role in MCLP and hopes others will follow in his footsteps.

"This is definitely very good program, it will give you all the right leadership skills but you have to be committed to it also. It's not just going to happen by itself. What you put in is what you get out." 

Striving for Success

"The people who know about it... know that it's a very good thing in this community and they know that it's a vision whose time has come"
- Deanna Frautschi

Deanna Frautschi, first Chairperson Deanna Frautschiof Multicultural Leadership Program (MCLP) Advisory Council, "still can't wrap her head around the success stories" that have emerged from MCLP. Needless to say, she is beyond thankful for the combined efforts of volunteers who have contributed to make MCLP what it is today.
Setting an example for MCLP members and graduates, Frautschi serves on numerous community boards, including the Baby Fold. "The Baby Fold wanted an MCLP graduate to join the board and one of our participants joined last year," said Frautschi.

That new board member is Peter Stroyan from the MCLP class of 2011. It started with the understanding that Pete has a passion for helping in this area. Stroyan then took the skills he acquired from MCLP and applied them to this community-driven organization. It's an example of our dream for all the graduates.

Frautschi says MCLP graduates are really starting to "dive in," filling in vacancies for boards and organizations in the community. "Many organizations are glad we're seeking out people to be in the program who have capabilities for leadership, but are either not finding an outlet for their abilities or not being asked to participate," she added.

Deanna said the success of MCLP graduates demonstrates a need for additional funding to build upon an already strong program. "When we first started, we had all-day guest speakers who donated their personal time...but they can't continue to do this if they come back every year." Frautschi believes the program will gain support so long as people continue to learn about MCLP and what it provides for the community.

When Frautschi first started with the program, MCLP was blessed with strong corporate support. In the last two classes, we learned that a class combining corporate leaders and community leaders creates stronger, smarter graduates. Mixing "business smarts" with "street smarts" expands the set of leadership skills that graduates can use to address the complex issues in our community. Now, Deanna would like more representation from all areas of the community.

"I'd like to see people from all avenues, not just the major companies, but small organizations or self employed individuals and the community at large," stated Frautschi. She added, "The greater diversity we get in terms of what people do for their work, the better off our community will be."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Three Things I Learned

By Jay Verner, COUNTRY Financial

A couple of Saturdays ago I was surrounded by some really important leaders from our community – City Managers from both Twin Cities, the Economic Development Council CEO, Communications Director from Mitsubishi and the director of Community Development at State Farm.

It all came about when the people who run the Multicultural Leadership Development Program invited me to moderate a very cool discussion about the benefits of partnerships between private business and public entities.

Here are the top three things I learned:

1. If you drive down Veterans Parkway, just about everything you see is a result of a public-private partnership.
2. We sometimes get lost in dollars and cents and forget to measure public projects by how they impact our quality of life. Communities with better qualities of life attract more businesses.
3. The best way to lead change is to start networking in the community. After all, MCLP was created because one guy started networking with enough people until his idea gained traction.

MCLP participants were pretty lucky to have such an impressive collection of leadership all-stars in one room. Check out their impressions below.