Ford Institute Leadership Program

Developing skilled and motivated leaders

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Every leadership class choses a community project.

The Institute's primary method for achieving community vitality is through a series of training classes called the Ford Institute Leadership Program. The program is based on the belief that vital rural communities develop from a broad base of knowledgeable, skilled and motivated leaders, a diversity of effective organizations, and productive collaborations among organizations.

The Ford Institute Leadership Program for rural communities in Oregon and Siskiyou County, Calif., was first offered in 2003. The Institute selects four new communities to enter the program each spring and each fall. The series of trainings typically unfold in this sequence:

Year 1 Leadership Development (class 1)
Year 2 Effective Organizations
Year 3 Leadership Development (class 2)
Year 4 Community Collaborations
Year 5 Leadership Development (class 3)

The Leadership Development classes are repeated to draw in new participants. 

Leadership Program: Brochure  

Leadership Program: Map 


The Leadership Development training consists of 48 class hours held over four Friday–Saturday sessions. The classes focus on developing the community leadership capacity of individuals. The training emphasizes an interactive and facilitative style rather than lectures. It draws on the knowledge and skills of those in the room, augmented by the lessons in the curriculum.

A typical class consists of about 25 individuals (high-school students to retired seniors) with leadership experience ranging from emerging to seasoned. This training is designed for a diverse mix of citizens representing business, government and non-profit sectors.

Curriculum concepts include:

    • Community capacity and social capital
    • Personality types and leadership styles
    • Community development models
    • Catalytic Leadership Model
    • Asset mapping
    • Group development
    • Models for group decision-making
    • Communication strategies
    • Volunteerism

Class Project 

Each class selects a project that they work on together (for example,  improving a  dock at a community lake). The project helps focus the course content on a real-world situation. The Institute provides up to a $5,000 match in support of the project. Participants are expected to volunteer outside the class to complete the project within one year. See Leadership Class Projects for more information.

Leadership Development FALL 2015:

Applications for the Fall 2015 cohorts is open. 

Applicants under the age of 18 will also be required to submit a signed parental consent form in order for their application to be considered.

Questions? Contact Alicia Flory by email or call  (541) 957-5574.


Online Application Schedule Deadline
Bay Area Schedule June 15, 2015
Columbia County Communities Schedule June 15, 2015
Crook County Schedule June 15, 2015
East Linn Schedule June 15, 2015
Estacada Schedule June 15, 2015
Hood River Schedule June 15, 2015
Molalla Schedule June 15, 2015
North Douglas County Schedule June 15, 2015
Territorial Heartland (Junction City/Harrisburg) Schedule June 15, 2015

Requests for Additional Leadership Cohorts (Classes)

Communities that have completed the first five years of the Ford Institute Leadership Program can now request additional Community Leadership cohorts. A limited number of cohort slots will be available each spring and fall. Cohorts will be selected from the applicant pool by Foundation and RDI staff. As demand grows, the Institute expects to expand resources to support additional cohorts every two or three years in each hub as requested. Community Leadership Cohorts will be facilitated by an RDI professional working in partnership with an experienced Community Ambassador Team (CAT). 

Spring 2016 Community Leadership Cohort Requests 

Cohort Request Form Deadline
Spring 2016 June 15, 2015

Community Leadership Cohort Request Form   

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