Lake County Build a Generation Begins Search for New Executive Director

After nearly a dozen years as head of Lake County Build a Generation, Katie Baldassar, Executive Director, will be leaving her position by the end of 2021. The Lake County Build a Generation Board of Directors announces today that it is launching a search to replace her. 

Since 1997, Lake County Build a Generation has been working to build a movement for community health in Lake County, Colorado. Staff members bring local residents together to address the issues that matter to all of us, like food, housing, and health care. In recent years, Lake County Build a Generation has led or supported collaborative projects that have resulted in the construction of new playgrounds at both local elementary schools, the launch of the Lake County High School Pre-Collegiate Program, the installation of 26 school zone signs across three school zones, the launch of the Lake County Community Fund and Get Outdoors Leadville!, the launch of a community mobile food pantry, and the launch of a bilingual financial fitness class –among many other successes. 

“Katie has worked tirelessly to help Lake County Build a Generation grow into the organization it is today,” said Robert Homiak, Board President. “We are so grateful to her for creating a strong organizational foundation upon which the next Executive Director can build.” 

Under Katie’s leadership the organization has grown in size and scope–and in 2020, it moved out from under the umbrella of the Lake County Public Health Department to become its own nonprofit. 

Over the last several months, the Lake County Build a Generation Board has been working to develop a strategic transition plan–including a job description, process and timeline for filling the Executive Director position. Today, the Board is pleased to open the position of Executive Director at Lake County Build a Generation to prospective applicants. For more information or to find the instructions for applying, please review the job description, which can be found here: https://lcbag.org/careers/. The Board is asking applicants to apply by the end of August, and it intends to fill the position by November, 2021. 

The Lake County Build a Generation Board welcomes all applicants, including diverse and non-traditional candidates. It looks forward to finding an Executive Director who will guide Lake County Build a Generation into its next phase–and help it mature as a high-impact nonprofit organization driven by community wisdom and power.

The Lake County Vaccine Equity team–comprised of staff and community members from Lake County Build a Generation, Full Circle of Lake County, St. George Episcopal Church and the Lake County School District, working closely with the Lake County Public Health Agency and the Office of Emergency Management– is hard at work educating the community about the benefits of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. By putting out facts about the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines and organizing vaccine clinics, the team hopes to help end this pandemic, together. As of July 9, 2021, 56% of Lake County residents age 12 and over had been fully vaccinated. To find a vaccine clinic near you, head to https://tinyurl.com/CDPHEClinic, and for information about COVID-19 in Lake County, head to https://www.facebook.com/COVID19LakeCountyCO

The Child Care Coalition holds the “Lake County Cares for Kids” Meet and Greet on June 10th at the Get Outdoors Leadville! Gear Library. (Photo by Ned Warner)

The summer of 2021 is well underway, and we at Lake County Build a Generation are excited not only to be out in the sunshine, but to also be back in the office! With vaccination rates on the rise and work-from-home mandates on the decline, many of our staff have been taking advantage of the opportunity to return to in-person work at our office on 6th Street. (Some of our coalitions have even begun to convene in-person!)

We want to stress that just because the rate of coronavirus infections is decreasing, it’s still important to remain vigilant and practice personal hygiene, social distance, and wear masks when appropriate. (And to keep applying that sunscreen! ☀️)

Hannah Guilford facilitates the final meeting of the Communities That Care (CTC) Coalition on June 10th. (Photo by Ned Warner.)

The Lake County Communities That Care (CTC) Coalition held its last meeting in June. (In partnership with Coalition members, LCBAG has decided to stop using the Communities that Care model in Lake County–but will be continuing to work on building a healthier community for young people through other initiatives and coalitions!) The Coalition reviewed its accomplishments over the last few years, including:

  1. Choosing priority community risk and protective factors. (Currently, “family management” and “favorable youth attitudes towards substances” are Lake County’s risk factors and “family opportunities for prosocial involvement” is Lake County’s protective factor).
  2. Choosing the strategy “Building Public Support for Community-Wide Implementation of Evidence-Based Parenting Programs” to address Lake County’s risk and protective factors. 
  3. Writing a Community Action Plan and an Implementation Plan (virtually!) that outlined the local data, why the Coalition chose Lake County’s risk and protective factors, what they hoped to accomplish with their chosen strategy, and what long-term health and behavior outcomes the Coalition hoped to impact.
  4. Formed new partnerships with parenting program providers in order to increase collaboration between organizations and increase support for parents in the community.

Coalition members also acknowledged that the CTC faced some challenges along the way, the biggest of which being that the pandemic changed the way the members met and communicated with one another. Learning how to meet virtually in an effective manner was one of the biggest personal accomplishments that members noted, and we at Lake County Build a Generation are very proud of their resilience in this time.

Below are some data points from the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey that highlight the impact that the Communities That Care Coalition–and all the partner agencies who comprise it–made from 2015-2019:

  1. Percentage of students who think their parents would feel it is wrong or very wrong if they drank alcohol regularly (at least once or twice per month): Increased from 83.5% in 2015 to 88.8% in 2019
  2. Percentage of students who have an adult to go to for help with a serious problem: Increased from 65% in 2015 to 67.5% in 2019.
  3. Percentage of students who could ask parents/guardians for help with a personal problem: Increased from 78% in 2015 to 82.8% in 2019.

Lake County Build a Generation is excited to share “Eviction Prevention and Diversion Programs: Early Lessons from the Pandemic” from the Urban Institute, which includes recognition of Lake County’s response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Lake County was one of four communities featured in this article and we are proud to share this recognition with the Lake County Community Fund, Full Circle of Lake County, Lake County Public Health Agency, Lake County Wraparound, and the Lake County Department of Human Services. Below are excerpts from the article which recognize Lake County’s response in particular. To read the full article, head to: https://tinyurl.com/3xyma6yt

Lake County High School students take a semester long fly fishing class at Crystal Lake outside of Leadville, Colorado through a partnership between Lake County High School and Get Outdoors Leadville! Three days a week the students are in class learning about fly rod construction and two days a week they go out and fish at various local places with instructor Colin McFee.

In Colorado, the nonprofit COVID Eviction Defense Program (CEDP) was formed in March 2020 as the pandemic was just beginning. Although its core staff had already been practicing pro bono eviction defense law, several early signs—including messages on social media and results from early eviction risk models—convinced its founders to form a formal organization dedicated to eviction prevention. CEDP initially focused on providing legal services, publishing data and research, and advocating for policy change. CEDP later piloted a rental assistance fund.

In Colorado, CEDP coordinates with courts, local governments, and other nonprofits throughout the state. CEDP provides legal guidance to local nonprofit partners and direct legal assistance to tenants when cases cannot be resolved at the local level. It has also implemented a rental assistance pilot that consolidates past and future rent into a single check at reduced rates, streamlining the process and helping funding go further. It collects and analyzes eviction data and advocates for policy change across the state. This division of labor lets local partners focus on maintaining productive day-to-day relationships and move more complicated and potentially fraught negotiations to CEDP. As one local stakeholder put it, CEDP’s involvement provides the local effort some “legitimacy” in the eyes of the landlords.

The COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project (CEDP), formed in March 2020, was designed to integrate previous mainstream eviction and homelessness prevention services in Colorado. CEDP connects renters who are facing financial hardship and are at risk of eviction to legal representation and other services, as well as a rental assistance innovation fund. CEDP also collects data, conducts and publishes research, and engages in policy advocacy. CEDP collaborates with community organizations and, in some counties, the local courts.  To understand how this operates at the local level, we also interviewed representatives from two organizations involved in eviction prevention efforts in Lake County, Colorado.

In Lake County, Colorado, for instance, locally raised funds do not cover 100 percent of rent, but they are distributed more quickly than state funds, which are more generous but take longer. This state-level delay has meant that smaller landlords have tended to be more open to the continued use of local funds, while larger landlords, with other sources of regular cash flow, have tended to move to the state-funded programs.

Racial and Economic Equity
In Colorado, CEDP, and specifically the Lake County Unmet Needs Committee program, serves a large population of immigrants for whom English is their second language. Lake County conducts outreach in both Spanish and English and partners with organizations that have built deep trust with immigrant communities. For many tenants hesitant to access federal and state resources because of their immigration status, Lake County’s program provides the necessary bridge to their access.   In Lake County, it was vital that the Unmet Needs Committee conducted a needs assessment of the community before formally setting up its eviction diversion program. As Stephanie Cole, executive director of Full Circle of Lake County and member of the Lake County Unmet Needs Committee, explained, “Folks that had lost their job and didn’t have any access to unemployment, they were working under the table, they had major barriers or fears to accessing any government assistance. Very quickly, we realized that [our] focus needed to be on those left behind from our safety net…There’s still a large portion that’s totally left behind, so that was a driver of the design, was to bring a balance to the relief efforts.”

Last fall, the Health Equity Advocacy (HEA) Cohort (a group of agencies across Colorado that included Full Circle of Lake County and Lake County Build a Generation) sponsored a Summit Series that included 11 webinars on the themes of advancing policy, healing towards action and changing the narrative. The Summits featured nationally-renowned speakers as well as Colorado-based leaders.

If you were unable to attend any of the webinars, check out the playlists on YouTube that include the full recordings of all the Summits in English and Spanish; 5 of the Summits are also available in French:

  1. HEA Summit Series – English (also available on the HEA webpage)
  2. HEA Summit Series – Spanish (also available on the Spanish HEA webpage)
  3. HEA Summit Series – French

The Summit Planning Team also supported the creation of several shorter video clips that highlight key takeaways from the various Summits. Below is a list of playlists of these shorter clips by topic:

  1. Racial Justice | Justicia racial
  2. Philanthropy | Filantropía
  3. Young Leaders | Jóvenes Líderes
  4. Respectful Communication | Paz en la Comunicación
  5. Organizational Leadership | Líderes Organizacionales
  6. Intersectionality | Interseccionalidad
  7. How Native Communities Thrive | Como las Comunidades Indígenas Prosperan
  8. Healing Toward Action | Curación Hacia Acción
  9. Disrupting White Supremacy | Interrumpiendo la Lista de Reproducción de Supremacía Blanca
The brand new We Love Leadville sign in Leadville, Colorado.

Lake County Build a Generation and the Lake County Youth Master Plan/Health Equity Steering Committee announce that the $25,000 Culture of Health prize funds from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have been awarded to the St. George Mobile Food Pantry and Community Kitchen project.

Once launched, the Mobile Food Pantry will travel weekly to four key neighborhoods: Downtown Leadville, Lake Fork, Mountain Valley Estates, and Mountain View East & West to offer a no-cost grocery program to anyone in the Lake County community. Food for the mobile food pantry will come from the Food Bank of the Rockies, several grocery stores in Lake and Summit Counties, local restaurants, and Colorado-based growers.

The Community Kitchen will be a space where Lake County residents can learn to cook nutritious meals and where local organizations can work to unite all of Lake County’s food resources under one roof. This kitchen will address Lake County’s long-term food needs while creating a space that prioritizes community relationship-building via food.

For more information on this upcoming project, please contact Brittany from St. George at (719) 486-3087.