Noah Wilson-Fey’s experience as a youth participant in the RDI-delivered Ford Institute Leadership Program not only helped him to gain leadership skills but it also gave him helpful insights into who he is as a person. “He now has insights into who he is; his personality, his leadership style, his strengths and weaknesses, and how others see him,” said his mother, Kathy Wilson-Fey.
Noah first participated in the Ford Institute Leadership Program in January 2012, when he was a sophomore in high school. Noah was nominated by his science teacher to participate in the first cohort of the leadership program in Forest Grove. Although he didn’t know very much about the program before the first session, Noah understood that he would be learning and developing leadership skills alongside other community members, and this appealed to him. Noah’s mother was interested in the fact that he would be learning alongside community leaders, mostly adults. Kathy believes it is important for the development of teenagers to have mentor relationships with other adults, in addition to parents. She believed this connection to other adults in the community would be beneficial for her son. And, Noah already had some natural talents in leadership and social engagement before participating in the program, so his mother felt it would be a great opportunity to build on those gifts.
Kathy’s belief in the benefits of the program proved true. When asked what she felt Noah’s experience in the program was, she responded, “Overwhelmingly positive! He really enjoyed the other members in the cohort and developing friendships with other adults in Forest Grove. The content of the training, and the supportive environment created by the trainers enabled his developing new skills and stepping out of his comfort zone.” Even though Noah was one of just a few youth in the cohort, he felt fully included and respected as a contributing member with his own talents and ideas.
Noah enjoyed the program, especially building connections with a group of people apart from his parents. This was his own project; something that didn’t include much involvement from his parents. He also enjoyed interacting with adult leaders in his community; he was in a skit with the mayor, an experience not many high school kids get to have. Noah even led the implementation team of the culminating service project for his cohort; a set of improvements to the local alternative high school. He eventually decided to be on the Community Ambassador team, a role he felt was an honor to accept. Noah is now helping to facilitate the second leadership cohort in Forest Grove, and this role is both stretching him and is rewarding for him as he continues to step out of his comfort zone and take risks as a leader.
Noah is doing well in school, has assumed leadership roles in Link Crew and in the classroom, has a lead role in the high school musical, has been admitted to many Northwest colleges, and has earned several scholarships. It is difficult to know exactly how many of Noah’s achievements can be linked to his participation in the Ford Institute Leadership Program, but his mother says, “We are very proud of him. I have no doubt that many skills he learned and practiced in the Ford Institute Leadership Program will serve him throughout his life.”