Volume XII | Issue 1 | Spring 2012
Lane County Commissioner Faye Stewart used his leadership skills to help residents of the Dorena and Culp Creek areas create a water district to tap water from the Row River. Photo: Dorothy Delina Porter

Growth in skills changes lives

Participants motivated to new leadership positions

As an elected official, Faye Stewart must listen to voters, understand their perspective and find a way to navigate contentious issues. Stewart, of Cottage Grove, says those skills are integral to his job as a Lane County commissioner. He says he learned those skills in the Ford Institute Leadership Program, which he attended before running for election in 2004.

“I really believe I wouldn’t be as an effective commissioner without the skills I was taught in that course. I may not even have been elected,” he said. “[The Leadership Program] helped me with running, speaking, preparing my thoughts, organizing — a lot of skills that I didn’t have before the class.”

Those skills have been especially helpful during emotionally charged meetings

An Oregon State University evaluation found the program motivates participants to become leaders, achieve educational goals, apply for new jobs and run for elected office.

The county commissioner post is the first elected position Stewart has held; he just completed his seventh year.

Valuable skills

Stewart says the skills he learned in the Leadership Program helped him with conflict resolution, understanding how people think and learn, assessing situations, collaborative planning and implementation and listening.

Those skills have been especially helpful during emotionally charged meetings in Lane County, and he says they helped him assist people outside Cottage Grove develop a new water district. The community was at odds with the city after it announced it would discontinue service to rural users.

“When I arrived, I had a community that was really upset and spending most of their time in turmoil with the city,” he says. “I was able to set the turmoil aside and say, ‘This is where we are and here are the options.’” 

Aided by the county, community members formed the Row River Valley Water District and received a grant to build the treatment facility that began operating and serving people in the Dorena and Culp Creek areas in October 2010.

Pursuit of education

Sutherlin resident Jacinda Sullivan joined the Leadership Program in 2006 and also attributes some of her personal achievements to it. Sullivan says it helped her make connections in the community and, through the Meyers Briggs Type Indicators, she learned about different personalities and learning styles.

Though the Leadership Program never addressed it specifically, she says her experience motivated her to pursue her own education. “I’ve always been a highly motivated person with lots of drive. But as a single mother for most of my life, college goals took a backseat.”

In 2005, while working full time as director of information technology for the Sutherlin School District, she began studying for her associate’s degree at Umpqua Community College. She then earned a bachelor’s degree in business, with a minor in leadership, organization and management at Eastern Oregon University online, followed by a master’s in business administration, which she completed in August 2011. 

Today, she works in her “dream job” at a high-tech company. “So it changed my life from a very personal perspective. My momentum just started building really quickly,” she says. 

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