Chamber cultivates Tahoe’s community leaders |

Chamber cultivates Tahoe’s community leaders

Courtesy photo/Sierra SunNorth Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce Manager Kym Fabel, a 2006 student of the leadership program, helped provide research to Truckee's recycling coordinator, increasing participation in the recycling program.

County administrators and local recycling coordinators might not appear to have much in common.

But those are just two of the occupations of area residents who have graduated from the five-month North Lake Tahoe-Truckee Leadership Program.

About two years ago, Nichole Dorr was new to the area and hired as Truckee’s recycling coordinator. In charge of the new program, Dorr soaked up a lot of information about the people who recycled, but could not understand why residents were not using the blue bag recycling program.

Then students from the North Lake Tahoe-Truckee Leadership Program asked Dorr how they could help.

Through door-to-door and online surveys, the group presented Dorr the top 10 reasons why people chose not to recycle.

“The blue bags were not strong enough, too expensive and hard to find,” Dorr said of the group’s research results. “And so I went and looked at the [local supermarket] and I realized they were right.”

Since then, Dorr has implemented a program to secure a strong bag at a reasonable price that residents can purchase locally. Now she is waiting for hard numbers from a survey due out next month, to verify her perception of a successful effort.

“I know blue bag participation rates are up significantly,” she said.

Dorr was so impressed with the leadership class that she took it herself last year, and researched possibilities for a solar rebate program. Her class presented its findings to local public utility districts.

The leadership program has researched 25 similar projects over the past five years, according to North Tahoe Business Association’s Cheri Sprenger, who coordinates the program. Members of the leadership class have conducted research on successfully running a nonprofit organization, workforce housing and the Kings Beach Community Enhancement Project.

Although many of the 102 alumni of the class are already in leadership positions, the things they learn help them become more involved, not only in their profession, but in the volunteer world.

“I’ve talked to many graduates that went on to get more involved in their community,” Sprenger said. “They said after the class they felt more comfortable serving on a [public] board.”

Another graduate echoed Sprenger’s comment.

“There are still people that I met during that first year that I draw on today,” said Jennifer Merchant, Placer County Executive Office’s Tahoe manager, who was a member of the pilot program in 2002.

The North Lake Tahoe-Truckee Leadership Program is a collaborative project of the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce, North Lake Tahoe Resort Association and the North Tahoe Business Association.

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