River District Association celebrates recent staff professional development accomplishments

By: Kirsten Aherron

River District Association celebrates recent staff professional development accomplishments.

DANVILLE VA – The River District Association (RDA) celebrates the recent professional development accomplishments of three of its staff members. 

Office Manager Alyssa Turner completed the local leadership program run by the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Southside. The Leadership Southside program aims to develops participants’ leadership skills to strengthen their role as an individual, professional, and community member.

“Before Leadership Southside, I was always under the assumption that you needed the title to TRULY be considered a leader: CEO, Owner, Director, etc.” Said Turner, “But I've learned that titles are irrelevant; you can be leader regardless of your position, and not only at your job! You can be a leader anywhere in your community.”

Programs and Services Director Lashawn Farmer completed the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute, a professional development program for leaders confronted with Virginia’s most pressing natural resource issues who seek new skills in conflict resolution and collaborative problem solving. 

“Now, because of VNRLI I can have a deeper appreciation for the environment and myself. VNRLI gave a greater sense of purpose and belonging.” Said Farmer, “I am a leader and influencer and it is important to use my voice to advocate for the things that I believe in when it comes to my environment and community. Being a leader is more than a title or position, it is the person in the community that the people trust and someone who is constantly working on themselves as well as the issues. It is important to self-motivate and encourage. Sometimes the answers are discovered in silence, between each breath and during the times of peace, love and truth.”

Programs and Services Manager Will Mackaman completed the Reinventing Impact: Collaboration Lab program, organized by the Danville Regional Foundation, Healthy Places by Design, and the Tamarack Institute.  The Collaboration Lab is designed to help participants build local relationships, enhance collaborative leadership skills, and learn strategies for sustaining local organizational collaboration.

Mackaman said, "Collaboration Lab is an excellent leadership and relationship building program in our region. We learned that many of our community's hardest problems can only be solved when we collaborate, communicate well, and understand the problem to begin with before jumping to the solution. The goal is to eventually change the larger system for the better."

"The culture at RDA is very supportive and encourages ongoing personal and professional development opportunities" said Diana Schwartz, CEO of the River District Association.  "Our goal is for our entire team to be equipped to do anything they are passionate about.  Supporting learning opportunities to ensure our team consists of well-rounded individuals makes for a stronger organization and, ultimately, a stronger community."

RDA is excited to see how staff members use their new skills and knowledge to further enhance RDA’s work to continue the transformation of Danville's River District as a welcoming and lively place for all, while inspiring and influencing social and economic development for the great Dan River Region.