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Council Member Reflections: Christine Scanlan

By Seth Lindsey

Christine Scanlan, President and CEO, Keystone Policy Center

High Country Regional Council member since 2009

Christine Scanlan joined the High Country Regional Council in May 2009. One of the first large-scale Council projects she engaged with was in 2013 with Lake County Build A Generation (LCBAG) in Leadville. LCBAG was implementing a Youth Master Plan — a project vast in scope, timeline, and investment from the Council. This grant partnership would explore a new strategy, which was to make a deep investment in one organization in a specific community within the High Country region. During the grant partnership, the Council recommended more than $300,000 over four years, with grants supporting LCBAG’s programmatic efforts to support youth in the region as well as its organizational capacity needs at a time when it was transitioning to become its own 501(c)(3).  Christine shared the size of the project was seen as an opportunity to invest “in a big way and make a significant impact that would result in lasting change.” Prior to the investment in LCBAG, the Council had mostly made smaller, one-time grants.

In reflection on this grant, Christine noted an important factor for the Council that led to their support of the LCBAG project was the strong leadership demonstrated by the executive director at the time. Christine described LCBAG’s leader, Katie Baldassar, as earnest and willing to do the work necessary to see her aspirations fulfilled for her community. Throughout the partnership, the Council recommended financial support for organizational needs and professional development opportunities alongside programmatic grants. As Christine said, “we invested in her, too, not just the plan, and believed she had the vision to realize the goals we all wanted to see.”

Christine spoke about the long-term benefits of fostering relationships with programs and people. She was proud that throughout the Council’s partnership with LCBAG, the Council was hands-on: “I think it showed we were equally invested in the success and not just standing back from afar going ‘let us know when things are done.’ We really were part of the story being told.” To Christine, the relationship with LCBAG was more than just funding a project, it was a partnership nurtured with a commitment to uplift the project and its people.

A unique part of the High Country Regional Council’s work during its three-year funding cycle with LCBAG was a series of “cross-council meetings” with the Northwest Regional Council in 2015 and 2016. Both councils were funding similar youth-based projects and were also close to ending multi-year grant partnerships. Christine mentioned these cross-council meetings were helpful as the issues being tackled by both Councils were not confined to each specific region. As she noted, they did not stop at the county line. Beyond the sharing of strategy was the value in connecting with a new group of dedicated community leaders from the Northwest. She shared “just getting to spend time with them was great and was a fabulous chance to build relationships.”

As she looks to the future of the High Country Regional Council, Christine hopes the Council continues its commitment to supporting its grant partners. She hopes collaboration and long-term relationships with grant partners continue to be fostered because, for her, that is where “you see lasting change.”

Finally, when asked to give one piece of advice to a new Council member, Christine reflected on the value of engaging in the council’s work and being present whenever possible. She offered the following reminder that she gives herself regarding council work: “I’m investing in my community via this opportunity… for me, it is very much a personal commitment.”

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