Jeff Hopfenbeck and Ben Jourdan
As this year’s recipient of the Ben S. Wendelken Special Trustees Award for commitment to the nonprofit sector through El Pomar’s Awards for Excellence program, Governor John Hickenlooper was given time to address the crowd during the presentation ceremony in Black Hawk last month. Naturally, his remarks featured ample time for political humor. Think Republicans v. Democrats and you get the idea.
But in addition to a few chuckles, Hickenlooper offered the assembled group, made up of El Pomar staff, trustees and Regional Council members, a more serious look at the opportunities and challenges facing the state of Colorado. He championed the values, assets, and people that make the state a great place for innovation, while acknowledging both the social and economic issues facing the state.
Hickenlooper focused his speech on three issues his administration is working to address: health care, education, and economic development. While his speech highlighted particular parts of his administration’s unique approach to addressing each issue, two overarching themes emerged that tie closely with strategies discussed at the Statewide meeting.
First and foremost was a focus on “bottom up” thinking. As a part of the Colorado Blueprint, Governor Hickenlooper’s administration met with over 5,000 people in all 64 of Colorado’s counties, using local knowledge to create targeted local solutions.
El Pomar Foundation’s Regional Partnerships were designed with a similar intention. Established in 2003 to better understand and respond to the specific needs of rural Colorado, the Regional Partnerships are also built upon the belief that local leaders know best.
The Governor also highlighted the importance of collaboration in solving the issues facing the state. Collaboration also emerged as one of the most widely discussed themes in various sessions at the Statewide meeting. Three fellows – Libbey Davis, Preston Briggs, and Brandon Rattiner – led an interactive presentation to Council members and El Pomar staff on the types of collaboration best suited to the Regional Partnerships model. Moreover, the gathering provided different Councils from across the state the opportunity to share best practices, discuss issues facing their regions, and collaborate on challenges facing the state as a whole.
Ultimately, El Pomar’s Regional Partnerships are designed to use both bottom up thinking and collaboration in order to best serve the rural communities of Colorado. Coming from all walks of life, Regional Council members bring diverse local knowledge to the table and, by extension, are able to find unique opportunities for partnership and collaboration within their communities.
Click here for a full list of Awards for Excellence winners.