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Tuition cost jumps for Leadership Aspen

Allyn Harvey

As the Leadership Aspen program begins taking applications for its 11th class, it is in the midst of a few big changes.

Those changes, says Leadership Aspen Board Chairman John Sarpa, are typical of a nonprofit organization that has established itself in a community. The cost to participants is increasing to $900 this year, to pay for staffing and running the program.

“We’ve had a lot of services donated in the past that won’t be available in the future,” Sarpa said.

After this year, for instance, the organization will no longer be able to depend upon the generosity of Darcey Brown, who has served as the organization’s volunteer executive director for several years.

“She’s been very generous in the past to donate her services,” Sarpa said, “but that’s coming to an end.”

Leadership Aspen runs one leadership training program each year, starting in September and ending the following May. Beginning with a two-day retreat in early September to learn about team building and leadership styles, 25 participants meet one day a month for an eight-hour workshop on one of several elements of leadership.

The workshops are facilitated by nationally renowned speakers who spend the day with participants. Topics include: Facilitation and Communication; Negotiation Skills; Community-based Decision Making; Ethical, Authentic Leadership; Presentation Skills; Strategic Planning and Board Responsibilities; Cultural Competence; and Leading Organizational Change.

Longtime local Janet Garwood recently completed the program, and she was pleasantly surprised by its effectiveness. “It was one of the most positive experiences I’ve ever had,” she said. Garwood says what made Leadership Aspen different from the typical leadership seminar is its dual focus on the individual and the group.

“The one-on-one exchange in the group became so cohesive,” she said. “It was fantastic.”

Leadership Aspen was jointly founded by Colorado Mountain College and the Aspen Chamber Resort Association in 1988, after a survey revealed a distinct lack of leadership in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Each class is made up of people from very different political, philosophical and economic backgrounds, which forces participants to work with people to whom they wouldn’t normally give the time of day.

“Our group had an attorney from Glenwood Springs who represents developers – that’s his forte,” Garwood said, “and we had a couple of people who are out-and-out environmentalists. But they had to work together, to listen to each other.”

Applications for the 1999-2000 Leadership Aspen program are due June 1, although applications will be taken after June 1 if there is still space available. To apply, call the Leadership Aspen office at 963-9244 and leave a message with your address and a daytime telephone number.

The tuition this year will be $900, a sharp increase from last year’s enrollment fee of $550, but Sarpa points out that the cost is still well below the national average for similar programs. Limited scholarships are available for those who cannot afford the full tuition, he added, and various employers have been willing to help their employees pay for the program in the past.

“Leadership Aspen isn’t just for people who feel like they need to do something political,” Sarpa emphasized. “In fact, we make a point of accepting people from different backgrounds with different interests.”


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