Leadership Pasadena Graduates Community Leaders

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Dominick Correy (from left) of state Sen. Anthony Portantino’s office recognized Leadership Pasadena Homegrown Leaders Leilani Commons, David Hernandez, Jalen Welcome, Blaire Washington and Iria Taylor, who are pictured with Executive Director Kaya Plansker (far right). Not pictured: Melissa Castellanos, Riya Duddalwar, Danale Milloy, Iris Sanchez, Cleveland Waters Jr. and Ronnie Winn.

Eighteen community leaders completed the hybrid six-month leadership development and community immersion program run by Leadership Pasadena.
The organization strives for diversity in its recruiting to ensure that the peer learning that happens within the class spans a full spectrum of professional and personal backgrounds. This year Leadership Pasadena recruited four military veterans, four Pasadena city employees, multiple arts community members and a number of advocates for community causes such as youth services, immigration services and homeless services.
Starting in January of this year, the curriculum was run exclusively online until loosened public health restrictions allowed for in-person classes to resume in April.
“It’s remarkable how the class was able to connect despite not having met outside of Zoom. They formed a supportive and collaborative group immediately,” said Carolina Caro, leadership coach and facilitator. “It’s amazing how adaptable they were.”
Leadership Pasadena’s curriculum relies on a mix of strength-based personal leadership development, deep immersion into the industries and sectors driving greater Pasadena’s growth and development, along with a service project commitment through small group work. This year’s community impact projects tackled areas of high need stemming from the pandemic and looked ahead to areas where community engagement will be critical. Its projects span a survey designed to assess gaps in youth leadership opportunities, a habit-based learning platform to encourage parents of Madison Elementary students to access the parent portals, interviews with local senior citizens to showcase the diversity of aging needs and experiences, and a white paper proposal on how to increase community engagement and accurate representation of the community within Pasadena’s city commissions.
Projects are self-guided and are shared with the broader community in a graduation event at the conclusion of the program.

Photos courtesy Leadership Pasadena
This year’s Leadership Pasadena Core Program adult graduates include Gabriella Guzman (seated, from left), Joy Veluz, Kelly Nguyen, Lisa Barrios, Carol Calandra, with Executive Director Kaya Plansker, and Eugene Hutchins. Standing: Luis Rocha, Jose Madera, Amber Wright, Araceli Mellem, Amara Ononiwu, Joe Marcinko and Phyllis Lynes. Not pictured: Roberto Alvarez, Jennifer Burghdorf, Esther Hendershott, Katerina Mesesan and Roosevelt Pierre.


“I am so glad we will be able to share the class’ work with the community it is meant to serve with an in-person graduation,” said Leadership Pasadena Executive Director Kaya Plansker. “The level of thinking and passion for topics that affect so many of the residents here is impressive.”
Leadership Pasadena also offered a free inaugural youth leadership workshop series titled “Homegrown Leaders” which focused on the post-high school graduation period of job development and professional network building. Eleven youth members between the ages of 16 and 21 participated in the rigorous May workshops, receiving a certification of being “community-informed and leadership trained.” These Homegrown Leaders were matched with mentors and given an abbreviated version of the core community leadership development curriculum to jumpstart the next step in their professional journey. Graduates from both programs received their certificates of completion in a reception July 10 at the Maxwell House.
To learn more about Leadership Pasadena, visit leadershippasadena.org or email Kaya Plansker at kaya@leadershippasadena.org.

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