Leslie Harding, 2011 graduate of the Multicultural Leadership Program (MCLP), reflects on her experience with MCLP and how it’s changed her view of life. Harding explains that before enrolling in the program, she had the same feelings towards the community, and the same convictions about the right and wrong ways to interact with society.
However, the Multicultural Leadership Program (MCLP) taught her how she could serve the community. Before MCLP, Harding had no experience with not-for-profit organizations, but through MCLP she learned the practical steps to starting an organization and to establishing strong relationships with our community’s not-for-profit groups. Understanding how to be an effective member of the community is a significant benefit to Leslie.
Looking back at herself before and after MCLP, Harding feels that she has gained more confidence and courage to follow her passions and to stand up for her values. Much of that confidence comes from knowing her personal values. While enrolled in MCLP Leslie completed an activity in which she listed her values. Over the course of a few weeks she reduced this list to the few most significant value to her. Through MCLP Harding gained the confidence to not only articulate her values but live by them as well.
According to Harding, the Multicultural Leadership Program also provided her with endless connections to pursue her passions. Through MCLP Harding met people she would have never known. She learned the power of networking through the program. People are willing to help and offer many different resources, but most importantly people offer knowledge and advice that’s been invaluable.
Since graduating from the Multicultural Leadership Program she joined her first board, the Multicultural Leadership Board. Harding truly believes in the program and its approach to developing leaders. She was eager to join and become a board member. She is now responsible for organizing the graduation.
Furthermore Harding found the confidence and courage to start her own small business, Virtuous Women’s Designs. She helps not-for-profit organizations through buying and selling products, in which a portion of the profits go to the organization. Harding has specific designs for specific organizations. On each organization’s website she plans on creating a web link for people who are interested in buying shirts and designs. She wants to use Virtuous Women’s Designs as a way to raise funds for organizations. An example of one of Harding’s potential designs would require her to collaborate with graphic artists to create red, white, and blue designs for women involved in voting, these shirts could be sold for organizations involved in politics. To begin the process of finding organizations that can benefit from her designs, Harding emailed individuals from MCLP inquiring about establishments that would be interesting in raising funds through her unique designs. The community leaders and friends she’s met during MCLP were quite helpful.
Leslie Harding has advice for future graduates “cherish what you have learned, the best way to cherish it is to get involved and stay involved in something that you are passionate about.” MCLP taught Leslie that it takes a group of ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things.
Harding believes that prospective individuals looking to enroll in MCLP should take the time to learn about the program and how to apply. She thinks it is an outstanding program. MCLP prepares people to be leaders in the community and helps each recognize his/her unique ability to make a difference in the community.