The 31 graduates of the Community Advocates Leadership Academy (CALA) Class of 2017 celebrated their graduation on June 3. Graduates of all ages had taken 10 Saturday classes, one a month, to learn to make a difference in the environmental and social challenges of our time.
“We had wonderful guest speakers,” said graduating student Doreen Villemaire. “I learned that battles don’t always need to be fought with bullhorns, banners and marching in streets. But with patient tenacity and open understanding that there is always another side, you sometimes score wins (sometimes not), some small and even unexpected but all continue encouraging you to keep moving forward.”
Graduation speaker Teresa Alvarado is the San Jose Director of SPUR, an organization that works to improve our cities and region through good land use and good government.
“Build a sense of community,” advised Teresa. “Work toward something you love, not just fight against something you hate or fear. Take it one step at a time. Some of our work can be overwhelming so give yourself and others discreet bite-sized ways to engage in broader changes.”
Each graduate at the ceremony described the experience in the classes and announced his or her advocacy focus. These include:
- bringing back local farms
- a program to reduce car idling at student pick up locations
- planting trees in East Palo Alto
- forming a neighborhood community in Evergreen
CALA helps students transform their passions into vocal and effective community advocacy to build a Silicon Valley that is healthier and more sustainable and socially just. It teaches leadership skills and techniques to make a greater impact. It trains local people to make a difference in the environmental and social challenges of our time and place.
On behalf of everyone at Committee for Green Foothills, congratulations to the 2017 graduating class! We can’t wait to see what you do next.
More About CALA
Community Advocates Leadership Academy classes explore influencing elected officials, leadership practices, goal setting, and more. Committee for Green Foothills spearheads the program, and it is facilitated by our Executive Director Megan Medeiros and Debbie Mytels. Applications are now being accepted for the new program starting in September. Tuition ranges from $100-$1,200, but no one is turned away for lack of funds. Scholarships are made possible by the financial support of Google, the San Mateo County Health System, and members of Committee for Green Foothills. Find out more and apply today.