Becoming a Bush Fellow is beyond exciting! From the very beginning a feeling of hope and anticipation permeated everything. I was ready to move on and found it necessary to keep my focus on the business at hand until the Legislative Session ended and the Fellowship began. My network began to grow almost immediately and in May I attended the weekend retreat with the other Fellows - this remains a highlight of the outstanding opportunity Bush has offered me and we have found ways through social media and occasional gatherings to keep in touch and support each other through the work and the highs and lows (challenges really, not lows) of our Fellowships.
Because my Fellowship centered around my retirement from the Legislature and "retraining" to become an effective leader in my community, I began the enrollment process at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School. My acceptance into that program meant more than just "getting in" it meant becoming a student again (after 30 some years). I prepared a space for learning in our home and got a jump start on ready text books! That was a good thing, because the workload and attention being a full time graduate student entails was a bit of a shock to me. I have loved the learning, struggled with the amount of reading, writing and technology expectations and learned to accept less than an "A" as absolutely good enough!
All along I have been adding names to my LinkedIn page daily, accepting invitations to attend more events (and learning to say no if it doesn't support my goals), having coffee with old and new friends to discuss the Bush Fellowship program and my plans for the future. Additionally, I planned for and have participated in a three-year German Energy Exchange program associated with the University of Minnesota as a representative of Rochester who was chosen for this grant opportunity. I also have chosen to focus on sustainability as part of my academic studies at the Humphrey and also in the experiential learning portion of my Fellowship. The German "Climate-smart Municipalities" trip last June and the meetings with our partner city of Muenster, opened my eyes to the possibilities for my community. I plan on working with city officials in the years ahead to assure that Rochester's Destination Medical Center (DMC) development meets high standards so that Rochester can be known as a walkable, livable, healthy city in tandem with the Mayo Clinic's efforts to have it be known internationally as a "City For Health".
While the trip to Germany and the academic learning have been stimulating and challenging, I have also needed to reconnect with my community on a more personal level than had been possible as a Legislator away in St. Paul with my head in policy for much of the year. I did keep a planful bit of a distance from the election this year which was alternately difficult because of what was at stake, but made easier by the heavy class-load at school. Instead, I have been spending my "free time" (ha!) attending energy and development related meetings in Rochester and about the state. I intend to pick up more local work at the end of my compressed graduate school experience and in the second year of my Fellowship. I look forward to really digging in to the needs here in town and being more vocal about smart growth and development so we can make this wonderful community even better for those who live, work and visit here.
I have been accepted into the Harvard Kennedy School's "Women and Power" Executive Learning Program for May of 2017. This was another part of the Bush Fellowship plan that I wrote and it's is exciting to watch it being fulfilled! I anticipate broadening my network to include national and international leaders during this experience and look forward to the intensive program aimed at enhancing the leadership capacity of women which includes negotiation strategies and management training.
The Bush Fellow coaching, in addition to the support from other Fellows, has been very helpful. The monthly reports help me reflect and focus on what I'm doing and keep me focused on my goals, my growth and my learning. I look forward to the additional learning experiences that will be available to me in year two of the Fellowship and hope to attend the Bush Con events this spring to connect and network with others. Full speed ahead!