IMPACT Denver is a six-month leadership and civic engagement program offered by the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation. Several GFM colleagues have completed IMPACT Denver and/or Leadership Denver and raved about the experience, friendships made and community networks broadened.
When my IMPACT journey began in January 2012 our final class day in June seemed so far away. Instead, I blinked and the experience was over.
My biggest takeaway is this: the future of Denver is not as bright as many of us think. Our education system is broken and all Coloradans do not look like the runners, bikers and skiers portrayed in tourism brochures. From appalling literacy issues in schools to miles of food deserts, Denver is at a tipping point.
But there is a silver lining. If even a fraction of my IMPACT Denver classmates stand up and get involved, our community will thrive. I’ve been in public relations since the day I graduated from college but have not previously had the privilege of working and learning alongside professionals from such varied backgrounds of banking, nonprofit, construction, education and law. Even when my clients are from those industries, my contacts at those businesses tend to be in the marketing and PR fields, not the bankers and lawyers themselves.
During every class I was blown away by how differently everyone’s minds worked, yet collectively, our class asked questions and pushed boundaries on the various tough subjects that Denver is facing. We of course couldn’t solve the alarming achievement gap that exists in Colorado in a half-day session, but meaningful and through-provoking conversations took place, and a fire was lit to help drive change.
I’m still searching for the areas of civic engagement that inspire my heart and mind. I am now on the board of Colfax Community Network, a nonprofit that services the families and children who live in the motels along Colfax Ave., but I also have immense interest in health, food access and obesity-related issues. And one day when I have a family, I know improving our school system will become even more relevant and critical in my mind.
Not all businesses or organizations see the value in having employees go through programs like IMPACT. Once a month I was away from my desk and the experience was a financial investment in my professional development. That is why I am so grateful to GFM for knowing that six days out of the office is nothing compared to what I gained professionally – a network of peers that quadrupled in size and a sense of responsibility to improve our city, which is vital to ensuring small businesses like ours succeed. You really can’t put a price on being actively involved in your community.
Thank you, Laura and Ramonna – and my teams, for supporting me on this journey.
~Alexis Anderson is a Senior Communications Director and Social Media Strategist at GroundFloor Media. She loves to participate in GFM’s volunteer days and wishes she had more free afternoons to spend with the kids in the after school program at Colfax Community Network.