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Foundation Supports 6 Nonprofit Leaders in Leadership Learning Lab

FEBRUARY 18, 2020

Pentwater, MI – Six more Oceana nonprofit leaders have been selected by the Community Foundation for Oceana County (CFOC) to attend an eight-month Leadership Learning Lab. This is the third cohort invited to participate in the series as part of a three-year program.

Facilitated by NorthSky Nonprofit Network, the Leadership Learning Lab seeks to connect and empower nonprofit leaders and give them the skills to strengthen the organizations and communities they serve. The monthly workshops are at the Lakeshore Resource Center in Ludington in partnership with the Manistee Community Foundation’s selected nonprofit leaders. This regional initiative will allow participants to create a network of other leaders to build relationships, share challenges and learn from one another.

Funded by the Frey Foundation and the Oceana & Manistee Community Foundations, the Leadership Learning Lab aligns with the Foundations’ strategic efforts to support capacity building among local nonprofits. “The lab was born out of the collaboration of 11 northern Michigan community foundations that recognized we could do more together than separately, and generous funders that wanted to invest in a new way of empowering communities. The feedback I’ve received from the first two cohorts is very powerful. We’ve been able to support leaders in a range of positions from across the County. This type of training has been on my bucket list for years and we hope to continue to offer this program beyond this final cohort,”  said Oceana Foundation CEO Tammy Carey.

The third cohort participants are Paul Erickson, Kortni Garcia, Jodi Nichols, Sarah Schaner, Ryan Schiller, and Danielle Siegel.

Erickson serves as the President of the Oceana County Agricultural Society for the past two years and a Board member for six years. He also helps lead the Oceana County Historical & Genealogical Society as a board member. Paul was also a Charter Board Member and Past President of the Community Foundation for Oceana County. “I am honored to be included in this cohort to share ideas with other nonprofit leaders and help grow my leadership capacities for the agencies I serve,” said Erickson.

Garcia is a Public Health Educator with the District Health Department #10 for four years. She hopes to learn new skills and hone old skills as a leader and community change maker. “As a leader there are times, I feel challenged in my ability to move complicated coalition or community work forward.  It can be difficult to handoff responsibilities and know how to help build up others.  This program would benefit my organization because most of my job is working with the community and leading our collaborative efforts.  As a more effective leader I can help to bring positive change to our communities,” said Garcia.

Nichols is in her second year as Business Development Coordinator with the Oceana County Economic Alliance, contracted through The Right Place. She believes that herself, her organization and her community will benefit from the leadership development that she will receive through LLL. “I am a firm believer in continuous education and look forward to the opportunity to learn new skills and sharpen old ones.  I am particularly looking forward to building collaborative relationships with the others in my cohort,” said Nichols.

Schaner is in her second year as 4-H Program Coordinator- Oceana County with the Michigan State University Extension and volunteered with the agency for nine years prior. She feels that by strengthening her leadership skills, she can mentor her adult participants to become stronger leaders for our youth. “As a new staff person to MSU Extension, as well as this, being my first non-profit administration job, I want to learn how to strengthen my professional skills of leadership and administration. I believe a program can only be as strong as the leadership it has, and I want to be the best director for 4-H,” said Schaner.

Schiller is in his fourth year as Undersheriff but has served with the Oceana County Sheriff’s Office for fifteen years. As a young leader with growing experience, he says he is always looking to successful individuals willing to share wisdom. “I am interested in finding new ways to interact with and lead a younger workforce.  Additionally, I am eager to connect with leaders from other organizations to find out what has worked and not worked for them.  Personally, I want to be more than a ‘good boss,’ but continue to learn to be a ‘great leader,” said Schiller.

Siegel is new in her current position as Program Assistant for the Community Foundation for Oceana County. Danielle wishes to build up her capacity to do the many roles of her position and support the Foundation as it continues to grow. “I think my organization can greatly benefit from my participation in this training.  I coordinate a large scholarship program, an early literacy program, advise a youth council and wear many other hats in day to day tasks. This leadership training will help me to manage and move forward the programming I lead to benefit Oceana County,” said Siegel.

The Foundation envisions an Oceana where everyone has access to resources to thrive. It receives and manages contributions from citizens and organizations and has provided nearly $7 million in grants and scholarships back to the community since 1989. More information can be obtained by calling Carey at 231-869-3377, logging onto, or following the Facebook page.