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Reflections on the SLE Winter Retreat


Ben Haughton

As Fellows, we are fortunate to engage with a variety of unique individuals and groups on a daily basis. I have worked with a wide variety of people within El Pomar Foundation, on external nonprofit boards, and other organizations around the community. We are surrounded by impressive leaders, and I have gained  professionally and personally from each of these experiences. That said, a group that has had a significant impact for me over the course of my Fellowship is the staff, Fellows and scholars who comprise the Student Leadership Experience (SLE).

Working in conjunction with the leadership programs at 10 universities along the Front Range, the Student Leadership Experience brings together 40 college students three times per year to engage in leadership development and gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the nonprofit sector. Scholars enter the program with a wide variety of experiences and backgrounds, but individuals selected for this group hold one overarching commonality: the desire to lead and to give back. The diversity of the participants adds a rare richness to the program; many of the leadership lessons learned through SLE come from the scholars themselves.

Directing this program and working with this group of passionate young people has been a highlight of my Fellowship experience. It has provided me the opportunity to challenge my own leadership skills and philosophy through overseeing the development of the retreats, and in guiding and leading the execution of the programs. While I am in the leadership position with this group, I am always most amazed at the amount I learn from them. After each retreat, I find myself energized and impressed by the ambition, self-awareness and depth of thought each scholar puts into bettering the world around them. After being involved in 5 retreats, and serving as the director for three, I can only hope they have learned as much from being involved in these retreats and from each other as I have learned through engaging with them.

Last weekend marked the 2014 Winter Retreat in Boulder. The weekend was filled with activities designed to engage scholars in team building, nonprofit and leadership curriculum, and a captivating discussion on leadership with our keynote speaker: Coach Ceal Barry. Though all
of these activities brought immediate value to the weekend, my greater hope is that they planted a seed for conversations and relationships that will continue to develop long after the conclusion of the retreat.