Written by Toni Belknap-Brinegar, Senior Civic Engagement & Leadership Coordinator
On the Docket: Celebrating North Carolina
CVIEF’s Boards and Commissions program began with a grant from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), the first-ever offered in 2020. The following year, North Carolina League of Conservation Voters Education Fund was selected for the grant to start up their own program. The director, Kerry Wiggins, and I have worked very closely over the last two years building a learning community and sharing our knowledge about how our respective programs were thriving and learning from one another best practices as we grew our programs. We are pleased to celebrate alongside Miss Wiggins and her eighteen graduates from the 2023 class who celebrated their graduation in October. Ten of their graduates have either applied or been appointed to a public board or commission since graduation, and two grads are looking into running for public office.
We are excited to engage with South Carolina and Nebraska as they build their Boards and Commissions programs this year and build a network of graduates that spans from coast to coast.
As we continue to grow and develop this program under the LCV umbrella, we are building citizens with a stronger knowledge of government and fostering the growth of a stronger and more inclusive democracy.
Old Business: Former Fellow Follow-up
When Cristian Corza (2021 graduate) applied for the inaugural cohort of the Boards and Commissions program in 2020, he was looking for a way to engage with local politics in deeper ways. As a DACA recipient, he saw the need for the voices of individuals with his life experience in decision making bodies. He had worked on city council campaigns and was working on housing and healthcare policies for a Boise non-profit, but he wanted more.
Throughout the fellowship, we saw Cristian grow from a quiet person to someone who regularly contributed to the discussions. He and his mentor clicked right away and he worked through some tough personal issues that were leading him towards familial duty and away from his dreams and aspirations. With the encouragement of his Boards and Commissions classmates and mentor throughout the fellowship he applied to the University of Connecticut in Hartford to make his dream of getting a Masters in Public Administration a reality. He announced he was accepted the month after the B&C graduation in 2021. But, he didn’t stop there.
In his first year at UConn, he was elected as a Union representative and then in 2022, he applied and was appointed to the Commission on Immigrant and Community Affairs of Hartford; then appointed to co-chair of that commission. In 2023 he was nominated for ICMA Award for local government excellence for his work on health equity in Connecticut. “Engaging with community members and advocates is a big part of why I went to grad school in the first place, so the recognition is special to me,” Cristian reports. He was re-elected as co-chair of Commission on Immigrant and Community Affairs for the second year in a row. His most proud accomplishment this year, however, is his work on a mayoral campaign for Arunan Arulampalam. Mr. Arulampalam was elected in November largely because of Cristian’s commitment to his campaign.
Just because Cristian left Idaho for graduate school did not diminish the fire that he has for public service. While we are sad to lose such a fierce advocate, we are excited for Cristian’s success and we support him every step of the way and hope he will bring all of this experience he’s gaining in Connecticut back to Idaho once his graduate degree is realized.
New Business: Recent Appointments
On November 21st, Shelly Buchanan (Class of 2023) was confirmed by all three County Commissioners as an appointee to the Ada County Development Impact Fee Advisory Committee. She will be on this committee until 2027 and she reports being excited about lending her expertise and knowledge to decisions for the County.
“The CVI boards and commissions fellowship experience has been a transformative journey, equipping me with invaluable skills, insights, and a deeper understanding of challenges we face. With this experience, I feel prepared to apply this knowledge and training and I am committed to fostering positive change and dedicated service in my newly appointed position.” Shelly Buchanan, Meridian
Happy December everyone!
If you’re interested in applying for a board or commission, please remember that I’m here as a resource to help you! Feel free to reach out to me (email@example.com) for any application help – in addition to the notices about board openings, I’m happy to provide guidance on the application itself, write letters of recommendation, or help monitor the process for you and follow up with the city or county after you apply.
Additionally, we’re in the process of looking for events that we can participate in to promote the Boards & Commissions Fellowship to a broader audience. If you have any recommendations for events that you think would be a good fit (or even workplaces that would like to share these kinds of professional development resources with their employees), please let us know! Thank you for all your collaboration to help make this program successful.
Before We Adjourn
As we head towards the holidays and new year, we want to thank each and every one of you for your contributions to CVI and CVIEF. Whether you have donated money, volunteered your time, attended in-person or on-line events or simply subscribed to any of our newsletters, we thank you for your unwavering support. It takes all of us to create an Idaho that we all can be proud of.
Wishing each of you a very happy and healthy new year!