Community Fund Supports Leadership Development



“The Leadership Learning Lab (LLL) is a unique, impactful experience that has exceeded my

expectations, by far. The LLL is a professional development opportunity unlike anything else I’ve

experienced in my career. The LLL has already proven more beneficial for myself, my organization,

and my community than any other training I’ve ever participated in! I highly recommend it and

urge the continued development and implementation of this wonderful course!” -2018 Participant


This spring, three members of Otsego County applied to the Northern Michigan Community Foundations to attend Northern Michigan’s first Leadership Learning Lab. Tish Jankowski with Habitat for Humanity, Jennie Zoll with Huron Pines, and Brandy Riopelle with Otsego County Economic Alliance have been representing their nonprofit organizations and Otsego County. The OCCF has received a four month review of the Leadership Learning Lab which shows that this program has had an impact on the participants.

Rotary Charities of Traverse City developed the Leadership Learning Lab in partnership with the Northern Michigan Community Foundations and the Frey Foundation. The generous support of these organizations has allowed Rotary Charities to create the foundation for the Leadership Learning Lab and make steady progress toward these goals:

  1. Building the capacity of nonprofit professionals to effectively lead their organizations
  2. Developing a growing number of adaptive leaders in Northern Michigan nonprofits
  3. Creating a network of support be deepening connections and relationships with cohort members
  4. Helping nonprofit professionals gain a greater understanding of larger systems within which they operate
  5. Modeling adaptive leadership by allowing each cohort to help design portions of the series to best meet their unique community needs

The Leadership Learning Lab includes a combination of traditional capacity-building and leadership development, with a focus on adaptive leadership. Learning sessions are three hours long and guided by a facilitated, interactive approach to learning. Each session includes connection activities, mini-lectorates, large group discussions, small group activities, case studies/scenarios, and reflection. Participants have the opportunity to learn new skills, practice with their fellow cohort members and consider how they will incorporate this learning into their work. The first four learning sessions of the Leadership Learning Lab were:

1) May – Understanding Your Leadership Style
2) June – Intro to Adaptive Leadership
3) July – Board Development
4) August – Fund Development

When the Leadership Learning Lab participants were asked if they might have some general reflections on the program so far to share with you as the funding partners, this is what they said:

“Incredibly powerful, great use of my time! I look forward to attending each month!”

 “The Leadership Learning Lab experience has been incredibly valuable in giving me the tools and confidence I need to become an emerging leader in my organization. Having built-in opportunities to explore content in a classroom setting and then apply it in my day to day have made this a truly immersive experience. The opportunity to learn and share with peers has allowed me to build relationships that I am certain will last beyond the eight sessions.”

 “This is a great learning community where we truly get to practice what we’re learning in order to put it into use in all situations we encounter!”

 “What a gift it has been to be able to attend. I am putting a lot of new tools in my toolbox to allow me to better serve my community. Thank you!!”

 “I have loved the opportunity to be a part of the Leadership Learning Lab. All of the presenters have a heart for our success as leaders in the nonprofit world, and, best of all, they focus on the practical, making sure we leave each session with real tools and skills that we can implement immediately. I highly recommend investing in this resource!”

 “The Leadership Learning Lab program has helped me gain greater self-awareness as a leader. It also helped define the challenges of a nonprofit, which clarified what the next steps are for me as an executive director.”

The Otsego County Community Foundation has recognized the importance of leadership training within nonprofit organizations in our county and are thrilled with attendees’ feedback at the half-way point of the program.