Initiative Foundation Extends Open Invitation to 18- to 35-year-olds to Learn About Career- and Community-shaping Program


Helping leaders across generations, cultures and communities is the primary goal of Emerging Leaders, a new community development program being launched in April by the Initiative Foundation.

The Initiative Foundation is extending an open invitation to 18- to 35-year-olds to attend the April 17 event in Brainerd or the April 23 event in St. Cloud. The capacity at each event is 40 people; refreshments will be provided. Invite a friend and your name will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card. Learn about the program, network and apply to participate in this career- and community-building initiative.

A Need to Lead
Replacing the more than 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day in the United States from long careers and community leadership roles will be critical work for the small towns and rural communities of Greater Minnesota. Compared to the Twin Cities, where one in 56 people will be tapped to take on a leadership role, the average rural Minnesotan has responsibility for six or more top jobs-roles that can range from running small businesses to serving on community and nonprofit boards and supporting the leadership of area churches and schools.

Don Hickman, Initiative Foundation vice president for community and economic development, said in IQ Magazine that it’s crucial for Central Minnesota communities to tap the talents and passions of established leaders and those who might not yet think of themselves as leaders. “We need to plan ahead about how to help pass the baton and encourage that next generation of leaders to step up,” said Hickman. “It’s important to build these connections because not only do these traditional leaders have a lot of wisdom to share, the new leaders we’re seeing in that 18- to 35-year-old demographic reflect the diversity that’s helping to grow the region.”

Diane Tran, founder of Minnesota Rising, a Twin Cities young professionals group, will join the Initiative Foundation to help guide the conversation.

“What’s unique about this program is that it’s not one-directional,” said Michelle Kiley, Initiative Foundation community and economic development specialist. “There’s value in encouraging leaders to come together and find out what has been done already, what hasn’t been tried, and discovering new ways to increase the presence of emerging leaders in important community decisions.”

Information Sessions
The Foundation is sponsoring two Emerging Leaders informational sessions where participants can network, learn about the program and apply to participate:

Time: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Date: Friday, April 17
Place: Prairie Bay, 15115 Edgewood Drive N.

St. Cloud
Time: 4 to 6 p.m.
Date: Thursday, April 23
Place: Lake George Municipal Complex Sun Room, 1101 7th Street S.

Attendance is not required to participate in the Emerging Leaders program. Applications to the Emerging Leaders program will be available online and in a printed form beginning April 15.

About the Supporters
The Emerging Leaders program is supported by a Bush Foundation Leadership Network grant. The Bush Foundation’s investment in building the capacity of individuals through fellowships began in 1965. Since then, more than 2,200 Bush Fellows and Native Nation Rebuilders have reshaped every aspect of the region. The full list of Leadership Network Grant recipients can be found at

Visit the Emerging Leaders page on for additional resources.


The Initiative Foundation exists to improve the quality of life and to build stronger communities within its 14-county region of Central Minnesota by offering business loans, nonprofit grants, donor services and leadership training. Since 1986, the Initiative Foundation has invested more than $70 million in the region through targeted grants and business financing investments, including: 900-plus business loans totaling $45 million, which have leveraged $280 million in private business investment while securing more than 12,000 quality jobs; 4,100 grants totaling more than $25 million; 700-plus scholarships totaling $620,000; and 6,340 community leaders trained.