CONCORD, N.H. — ROC USA® President Paul Bradley and ROC Association New England Region Director Kim Capen were guest speakers at ROC-NH’s Community Leadership Training series graduation last week, hosted in a socially distanced format at the Kimball Jenkins Estate.
The Community Leadership Training is a series of workshops combining education, networking, and practical application. The series is free to all Members of New Hampshire’s resident-owned communities, and required in-person participation at the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund’s offices in Concord once per month from October to April.
The pandemic threw a wrench in the original graduation plans – the 17 graduates from 12 different cooperatives wrapped up their training in March and were slated to graduate in April. However, the ceremony was pushed until September. Each graduate was allowed to bring one guest, tables were spaced six feet apart and were limited to two chairs per table, and attendees enjoyed prepackaged bag dinners from the Common Man.
The insights from the speakers reflected the change in cooperative leadership as a result of the pandemic.
Capen opened the evening with remarks about relying on peer support, and invited graduates to participate in the ROC Association’s monthly networking calls, where leaders from ROCs around the country meet virtually to brainstorm questions fellow ROC leaders have. He also encouraged the graduates to be responsive to change and to be transparent in leading their cooperatives.
Graduate Ellyn Barnard, who was selected by her peers to give the class address, spoke about the innovative ways her community, Medvil Cooperative in Goffstown, has managed to stay connected over the last few months. She highlighted informal Zoom coffee house sessions and Medvil’s weekend golf cart parades as ways the community has connected from afar. She challenged her fellow graduates to think outside the box in terms of community building initiatives, whether it be virtual meetings, or socially-distanced picnics.
“People are thinking about what we can do to create events involving people in the community,” said Barnard. “COVID-19 is a funny situation, but it’s bringing the community together.”
Bradley spoke about the importance of leadership during times of uncertainty, like the ongoing pandemic. He remarked that the community leadership program is a great resource for learning how teamwork and community building helps leaders determine how to solve problems.
He also spoke about the strength of cooperatives during economic downturns, telling the graduates, “You will prove your resiliency.”
Each graduate was presented with a certificate and a star showcasing their strengths, as determined by their peers.
ROC-NH recently announced their 2020-21 Community Leadership Training will be conducted fully remotely. Fourteen cooperative leaders will partake in the virtual training.