Lorii Rabinowitz is unabashed in saying that some of the best things in her life have been because of her involvement with the Leadership Foundation.
We can’t take credit for everything; Rabinowitz has been a standout volunteer, champion and board member of the Leadership Foundation since she was part of the 2011 Leadership Denver class. But, it was visiting Pittsburgh on Leadership Exchange in 2013 that would send her work—and her service to the community—in a new direction.
“It taught me what it means when something speaks to you,” Rabinowitz said.
It all started after Rabinowitz raised her hand to convene conversations with the community about bringing a new kind of education and workforce program to the Denver metro area. Rabinowitz had just listened to a keynote by Bill Strickland at the Leadership Foundation’s annual luncheon, now called Leading Colorado, and joined Leadership Foundation alumni and civic leaders for a special meeting with the Manchester Bidwell Corporation founder. The organization, which has been replicated in cities around the country, takes a unique approach to education and workforce development, offering opportunities for youth and adults to harness life and work skills, all in a beautiful physical space that celebrates all people as assets.
“We know what we’re doing (in education) isn’t working for everyone,” Rabinowitz said. “One of the things that’s really special about the model is that it meets people where they are.”
After more than a year and a half bringing together leaders—including many Leadership Foundation alumni—from all sectors and 120 organizations, through “a community inspired, community-driven effort,” Rabinowitz became the executive director of the Denver Center for Arts and Technology, an independent nonprofit based on the Manchester Bidwell model. The organization will fill gaps, while collaborating with many of the existing organizations uncovered during the exploration effort.
DCAT, as it’s called for short, will open with after-school classes for youth in ceramics and digital arts and focus on workforce opportunities in the health care sector, with a full array of life and work skill-based offerings in the next 18 months.
“I think it’s a really exciting time throughout the community to talk about workforce development. I think that over the last couple of years there’s really been much more of an intentional focus on when folks complete any level education, whatever that happens to be,” Rabinowitz said.
And, she considers herself lucky to be surrounded by many of the alumni of the Leadership Foundation with whom she has connected throughout the last six years. In fact, alums serve in key leadership positions on her board, including Bob Deibel (Board of Directors and Leadership Exchange) as chair, Jennifer Hallam (Colorado Experience, Leadership Denver ’09 and Legacy Denver) as vice chair, Andrea Fulton (BOD, LD ’15 and LEX) as secretary and Akasha Absher (LD’15 and LEX) as treasurer.
“It’s been this cool ‘rock in the water’ kind of thing,” Rabinowitz said. “I feel like the Leadership Foundation is this thread of the fabric that connects Denver, and we are a market of people who like to do and like to commit.”
To stay in touch with Rabinowitz and DCAT, visit www.denvercat.org.
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Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation.