Competence and Confidence: Partners in Policymaking, Emerging and Established Leaders (C2P2/EEL)

January 2011
edited August 2017

C2P2/EEL is a training program which pairs an individual with a disability who has demonstrated leadership, with an emerging leader, perhaps someone who has not had the opportunity to lead extensively, or even work with, others.

Over a series of five weekends, during a six-month period, the pair works together developing skills, during sessions such as "Leadership and Diversity," "Sharpening Team Building Efforts," and "Community Building." The program culminates with the emerging leader working in an internship. During its inaugural year, ten teams participated in C2P2/EEL. The teams included established leaders from a variety of industries—human services, education, performing arts—and emerging leaders from varied backgrounds, ages and education experiences.

Meet one C2P2/EEL participant—Christine

Christine—she prefers Christie—was a 29-year-old, youth leader at Freedom Valley's Center for Independent Living, in Philadelphia when she heard about C2P2/EEL. She thought it would be a perfect opportunity for her. It was a crucial time in Christie's career path, so she completed the application and she waited.

It was Kathy Miller, Assistant Director of Training at the Institute and the Project Director of the C2P2/EEL program, who first read Christie's application and eventually interviewing her for the program. "Christie was bright and vivacious and, as we came to know first-hand after her acceptance, she 'loves trying new things,' as she wrote in her application."

One of Christie's main goals in attending C2P2/EEL was to improve her leadership skills, but even more important was her desire to make a difference for others with disabilities. "I have always known, since I was young, that I wanted to do something positive with my life and leave my mark in the world for future generations to hopefully want to follow," Christie says.

Soon after her acceptance into the program, Christie met with the group of Established Leaders. "We invite the emerging leaders and the established leaders to have brief, 'get-to-know-you' conversations and then do a switch," Kathy says. "Eventually, everyone gets to meet. It's fun and energetic."

At the end, each participant decides who would be the best fit for them—those with whom they "connected." Christie "found" Carol Marfisi, an instructor at Temple University, a long-time employee of the Institute on Disabilities, and a person with a disability. They were paired and spent two of the five C2P2/EEL sessions together. "Carol Marfisi is a wonderful woman," Christie says. "She was actually chosen for me and kudos to the C2P2/EEL staff for matching us. I know I wouldn't have gotten what I did out of the training if it hadn't been for Carol being picked as my Established Leader!"

Carol immediately recognized Christie as a motivated, focused, and practical young woman. "From the moment I heard Christie speak, I knew that I would be in for quite a challenge," Carol says. "I remember thinking to myself: 'how would I give guidance and ideas to this young, spunky, very articulate woman, who certainly knew many of the factors that lead to success?'"

During the program, Carol and Christie grew closer, sharing experiences about leadership, work and about life in general. "Carol kept me in check, making sure I was doing alright in the program, but the most important thing she did was to remind me to take time out for myself and 'stop and smell the roses.'" It was this sentiment—which Christie included in her ending ceremony speech—that made it all come together for Carol. "When Christie thanked me for listening, but most importantly, for always reminding her to be good and kind to herself, I realized what place I had in this process."

The final step of the program is placement in a summer internship. Christie worked with Denise, a Quality Manager at Philadelphia Coordinated Health Care, a program of PMHCC. Denise calls Christie a "delight." Aside from her energy and wonderfully positive attitude, Christie was a great addition to the office for her intellectual contribution and work ethic. "Christie brought a lot to the table," Denise said.

"She joined with others in creating a training module for young adults about the importance of healthcare and accessing healthcare as an adult." Though unable to finish due to time constraints, Denise says they fully intend to ask Christie back.

"She was as reliable as any employee here—not only punctual, but considerate of others and always ready to work." The teamwork experience, Christie says, was the one of the most memorable parts of her internship. "Every person worked as a team player, not only doing their own job responsibilities, but helping co-workers whenever and wherever they could."

Denise says that the office had to undergo a few changes to accommodate Christie, including a doorbell. It was difficult for Christie to swipe her ID card and then to open the door, so a doorbell was installed, alerting staff when a visitor is unable to open the door. "Christie's time here has been a tremendous experience for everyone and has resulted in unforeseen benefits for our office, such as the doorbell, and other, not so tangible benefits, because of her spirit and intellect. She has been a great addition to our office. We've got her workspace ready for her return!"

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