Chelsea Rosty

Some years ago, there was a large community gathering in Montrose. The time had come for deciding what the future would hold for our “little town.” Together, participants mapped out what they wanted us to look like and how we were going to get there. One of the largest outcomes was the need for a community leadership program. People recognized the importance of leadership and they wanted “home grown” leadership skills, i.e. equipping people with a deep knowledge base on Montrose and its intricacies.

Over the past 22 years, from its inception as the Uncompahgre Valley Leadership Program to its identity today as Montrose U, the City of Montrose and the Montrose Chamber of Commerce have partnered in cultivating a structured program that develops the next generation of leadership.

And with 22 years of data, we can confidently say this program has contributed to the success of some our most effective local influencers. Alumni include many past and present City Council members, Emily Schneider, Bill Patterson, Kelsey McCarthy, Tom Chinn, Zoe Larkin, Ken Sherbenou, Gene Lillard, Bill Bell, Sandy Head and Riyanon Keep to name a few. Graduates of the program have left with a better understanding of Montrose past and present. They’ve also left with strong bonds with their fellow classmates that have bloomed into many collaborative efforts and accomplishments over the years.

Like anything with 22 years of history, the program has had its struggles. It lost its way a bit; it became stale, people lost interest. In fact, from 2013-17, the program didn’t exist at all. At the beginning of 2017, the chamber conducted a “Listening Tour” with the intent of hearing the desires of our local businesses. Time and again, the leadership program was referenced. By September of last year, the program was resurrected. Alumni, chamber staff, city support and facilitator Sue Hansen came together with a polished program and graduated 18 new leaders into the community this past May.

Montrose U has been redeveloped into the following deliverables:

•Understanding of the Uncompahgre Valley history including the leadership, vision and compromises required for us to be the community we are today.

•Knowledge of personal leadership style and how to work with other leadership styles for optimal results.

•Introductions to local government leaders including city council, county commissioners, state representatives, senators and others.

•Education on local challenges and accomplishments from education, healthcare, water rights, agriculture, manufacturing, etc.

•Knowledge of the election process and what it takes to run for office.

•Competency in Robert's Rules and the responsibility of serving on a board of directors.

•Development of skills required of an executive director or person who answers to a board of directors.

•Exploration of personal passions and opportunities for serving our community within that wheelhouse (the program challenges all participants to get involved).

•Education on our tax base, such as Tabor, Gallagher, Amendment 23 and the ability to explain the tax base to others.

•Mentorship to the next leadership classes in Montrose; fellowship with all program alumni.

We love this community because of its incredible quality of life. The quality of our community depends on the quality of the people we have leading it. Quality is not achieved by accident. It is through intention, hard work and commitment to the cause. Preservation of quality is up to the next generation of leadership (with no bearing on age, but rather mindset). Who’s in?

Applications for the 2019 class of Montrose U are now open at

Chelsea Rosty is the executive director of the Montrose Chamber of Commerce and director of Business Innovation for the City of Montrose. Contact her at

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