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City part of initiative to encourage minority leadership

WORTHINGTON -- Through a Blandin Foundation program, the city of Worthington will be participating in an initiative to encourage leadership within the ethnic community.

"The city of Worthington is no stranger to different Blandin Foundation initiatives, but this one is targeted mainly for building leaders within an ethnically diverse community," City Administrator Craig Clark said. "As it's been explained to me, it's not about building cultural awareness. It's the next step beyond that."

The goal of the project is to build upon the progress already being made.

"It's more about taking it to the next level and developing leaders within those communities," Clark said. "I think that's where Worthington is at a bit of a crossroads. The high school is often talked about where kids in high school don't even really notice the different ethnicities, they are just high schoolers. That's great, and the way it should be."

However, there are more possibilities to work together.

"They are busy working within their communities within the broader Worthington community and interacting well there," Clark said. "We interact well when we see them in town and those sorts of things, but there has not been sort of an integration of that and developing the leaders out of those groups to help improve the community and join civic clubs and do those sorts of things. That's what we'd like to see a lot more of."

Through projects in the city, members of different ethnic groups have been approached and involved. But this will look to build upon that involvement.

"Working on different city projects, we did the strategic planning process and we had a special session with the minority communities to try to get more input from them in the process," Clark said. "I think that went well, but a lot of the other things that we've done, there are a lot of similar faces at different things we go to. We're desiring to get other leaders from the different ethnic communities to participate, and that's been a little bit of a challenge.

"We've come a long way in our ethnic diversity, but taking it to the next level and developing more of the leadership components is what this specific initiative is set out to do," Clark continued. "It's an opportunity for our community to participate in and do just that and take it to the next level."

The city is being joined by others from the community, including representatives from the Nobles County Integration Collaborative and Community Education.

"We're as strong as all the people of our community serving on various entities and taking a leadership role," Clark said. "That's everything from sponsoring a community park to helping with the United Way to helping with the International Festival to helping with King Turkey Day. We're best when we're all working together."

The group will have a meeting Wednesday to start what will be an in-depth process. The initiative could take up to seven months.

"It's not to say we haven't made a lot of strides as a community moving forward, but it's definitely something we've recognized with the city and we're very interested in outreach and trying to figure out that puzzle," Clark said. "Trying to get that active participation is always kind of a difficult component."

Daily Globe Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.