Leadership Los Alamos Celebrates Newest Graduates

Leadership Los Alamos Board Member Cheryl Sowder with Leadership Los Alamos Chair/Los Alamos Police Chief Wayne Torpy. Sowder models the chief’s new hat presented to him in fun during the LLA graduation ceremony Friday at the Pajarito Ski Area Lodge. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.com

By Kirsten Laskey

Qualities in a leader could be courage, selflessness, integrity … but how about a sense of humor?

The ability to laugh, even in a top position, was practiced during the Leadership Los Alamos (LLA) graduation held Friday night at the Pajarito Ski Area Lodge.

Leadership Los Alamos Chair/Los Alamos Police Chief Wayne Torpy was presented with a special hat, which he wore throughout the evening. It was a silly looking beanie decorated with a Los Alamos Police Department badge and plastic beads on the spinner.

Torpy explained that during the Las Conchas Fire he wore his police hat while appearing before the media. People kept asking him, “What’s with the goofy hat?”

So, in preparation for any future crisis, the Leadership Los Alamos board presented Torpy with the goofy new hat.

It was a great gift, he said, adding that he is not someone who takes things too seriously.

In speaking about the newest crop of LLA graduates, however, Torpy did get serious.

“This has been, in my opinion, the most engaged class … they participated in the highest level I would expect of them. The program benefited from them and the community will benefit, too,” he said.

The 2012 Leadership Los Alamos program graduated 27 participants. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.com

LLA recognized the 27 community members who completed this year’s program, which began last September and focused on a number of topics including local government, economic development, education and youth, regional and cultural issues and the environment.

Guest speakers such as Rep. Jim Hall, R – Los Alamos, Sandoval and Santa Fe counties spoke to the class. The participants also actively discussed and debated issues with the speakers.

“I think the most important thing is that it has inspired me to be more educated about concerns and issues within the county,” said New graduate Kate Stoddard, supervisor of the Los Alamos Police Department’s Emergency Dispatch Center. “I appreciated meeting the various people. It was a wonderful opportunity to get to know aspects of the area we did not previous know.”

Graduate Nancy Coombs agreed saying, “It was a great opportunity to expand our awareness of what we can do in the community.”

A class that particularly impacted graduate Cindy Rooney was one in which community leaders including Los Alamos County Council Chair Sharon Stover, Deputy Fire Chief Justin Grider, Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott and Torpy discussed last summer’s massive Las Conchas Fire.

LLA board members from left, Mike Wismer, Marc Clay, Marla Brooks, Wayne Torpy and Cheryl Sowder address the graduates during Friday’s ceremony. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.com

In addition to celebrating the graduates, LLA recognized Board Member Cheryl Sowder with its annual Outstanding Achievement Award.

While receiving the award, Sowder said LLA is a lot of work but when she hears what its participants have taken from the program, the effort is well worth it.



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