Sister Karen Bland is known throughout Colorado for her leadership in preventing and ending homelessness. Recognized for her years of service, she was recently selected from among 200 nominees to participate in the inaugural Sisters in Public Leadership project. She joined 14 other Catholic Sisters in Washington, DC for this event that honored the Sisters' work and provided them with cutting-edge knowledge for their social justice advocacy.
Sister Karen reflected on her experience, saying, "Although I have served in a leadership role for many years, effective leadership is a life-long journey in learning." Indeed, we think that is what makes Sister Karen such an effective leader: she never stops learning.
She knows the power of learning from her years spent as a teacher and in school administration. For the last seventeen years, she has applied her lifetime of experience to the role of Executive Director of Grand Valley Catholic Outreach where she works to prevent and end homelessness. She also serves on the Governor's Pathway Advisory Committee, the Grand Junction Continuum of Care, a coalition of agencies that strive to end homelessness in the local area, and GVIN, a local interfaith network of religious leaders.
Sister Karen pauses for a photo (middle, in tan) at the Sisters in Public Leadership Project
Her recent recognition and training at the Sisters in Public Leadership project was just another way that she continues to learn in order to better serve God's people. Sister Karen said that Faith in Public Life, one of the event's sponsors, "has developed important strategies for addressing social ills, or as some term it, social sins, and offered training in these strategies to each participant."
"During our one and a half day session, we learned the important role that storytelling plays in getting a message across, honed our interview skills, op-ed writing, and lobbying." Sister Karen noted that Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK, and a cousin of our own Sister Amy Campbell, conducted the storytelling section.
At another point in the training, each Sister was interviewed about a social justice topic. "Prior to the interview we had received tips for presenting an assertive picture for the viewer," said Sister Karen. "Each interview was followed by a critique that emphasized the positive points of the interview as well as what might have been better. I am confident that my future TV interviews will reflect much of what I have learned in so short a time."
Here's to Sister Karen who reminds us that the best leaders are those who cultivate the habit of learning!