Leadership Bend Kicks-off 26th Year with History Lesson

A note from Talena Barker: Director of Leadership Bend

Now in its 26th year of educating and cultivating rising leaders, the 27-member Leadership Bend Class of 2019 is off to a strong and fascinating start. Often described as “community succession planning,” Leadership Bend presents a 360 degree view of our community, along with its history, challenges, opportunities and unique composition in order to equip our next generation of leaders for success.

Leadership Bend presents a 360 degree view of our community.

Our September session kicked off with a comprehensive look at the history and framework of the greater Bend area, which is the perfect springboard into our nine months of deeper dives into all aspects of community structure and leadership development.

Each month, Leadership Bend class members will offer up their thoughts and perspectives on the session, which we’re delighted to share here.  This overview is courtesy of Rachel Cardwell of OSU-Cascades and Shon Keely of American Red Cross.


The 2019 Leadership Bend class convened on September 27th for the first in a series of meetings that will continue through May of next year.  This year’s Leadership Class consists of a well-rounded mix of professionals from various walks of life and business experience in and around Central Oregon and beyond.  This class year is also the first class to have participants from 3 of the area high schools who are eagerly ready and excited to be a part of the team and work alongside the business professionals who were also accepted into this year’s class.

How can we seek to be leaders without first understanding our roots?

We started things off with a history lesson, for how can we seek to be leaders without first understanding our roots? A huge thank you to Kelly Cannon-Miller, Executive Director of the Des Chutes Historical Society, and Jim Crowell, Historian Extraordinaire, for walking us through the highlights of the last 114 years (Did you know Bend was incorporated by a vote of the people in 1904?) And while the history of this place certainly goes back further as native lands to several tribes, covering just over a century’s worth of history in a few hours was a great way immerse ourselves in the questions ‘What was Bend, and what will it become?’

After a historical walk around town, we were honored to hear from five of Bend’s most esteemed leaders: Todd Taylor of Taylor NW, Bill Smith of William Smith Properties, Connie Druliner of Express Employment Professionals, Bev Clarno a former legislator and Deschutes County Commissioner, and Eric King the City Manager of Bend. We each had the opportunity to ask the hard questions and hear from people on the front lines. Our questions focused on growth management, housing affordability, diversity and making Bend a more inclusive place, what makes our local economy distinctive, and bridging political divides for the good of our community. Our speakers gave thought provoking responses and challenged us to look for the little things we can do every day to make Bend better.

This incredible opportunity will not be lost and we are all looking forward to our next meeting.

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