Notes from Colleen’s Desk: Together We Accomplish More

Don’t you just love a good cliché? They turn up at just the opportune moment for conversation filler, usually falling flat and well,… as the definition goes, betraying a lack of original thought.  Or how about those irresistible motivational posters. For example, “TEAM: Together Everyone Accomplishes More.”

In the last seven days, SOREDI has received three awards; one from the National Association of Development Organizations at the annual leadership conference in Reno, and two this week at the Oregon Economic Development Association’s annual conference in Salem. In my nearly 18-year career with SOREDI, the agency has received 7 NADO Impact Awards and 7 OEDA Awards celebrating our creative excellence in our industry tours, virtual building initiative, business outreach initiatives, Southern Oregon Edge profiles, TAG team, Southern Oregon Angel Conference and more.

Try as I might to cleverly devise an innovative alternative for TEAM, I am unable to craft the perfect hybrid of a cliché and an acronym to convey what is behind the success of SOREDI. It is hands down, all about the team and the fact that together we actually DO accomplish more!

How blessed I am to work with dedicated individuals within and outside this agency that truly demonstrate the philosophy of collaboration, creative thinking, aspirational visioning, tenacity and more. And how blessed SOREDI is to serve Southern Oregon, with citizens that exemplify the same virtues!

As I pondered what I might say to the 150+ Oregon colleagues who attended this year’s conference, beyond the simple yet genuine thanks for the recognition of our work, a few thoughts came to my mind as I stepped up to the podium to share. I believe whole-heartedly that the following core values, lead to our success as an agency every day.

We take time to rest and play. We are not workaholics, but we work incredibly hard. When we take time to set aside our work, be playful, and simply think – the creative energy begins to flow and roguediculous ideas are born.

SOREDI Quest is an incredible example of just that, claiming 2 of the 3 awards mentioned; a National Impact Award from NADO, and Outstanding Collaborative Partnership Award from OEDA. SOREDI Quest actually evolved from the idea of a physical road rally, crafted by our Community Development Manager, Rob Merriman to a digital competition for high school students, educating them about companies and careers right here in Southern Oregon. That metamorphosis happened on a flight somewhere when I was forced to just sit and think, resulting in blueprints for Quest mapped out on a “cocktail napkin” by the time I returned home. (We still reserve the possibility of a road rally someday!)

Last April, nearly two years later, we proved out the concept in which over 2,000 students in three local high schools participated. Thanks to generous sponsors, we awarded over $8,600 in scholarships and prizes. Watch for the beta version to emerge in early 2020.

We follow through on what we say we are going to do. We pick up the phone. We return emails. We make the introductions we promised, find the resource, or make the referral to the best partner who can fill the need. And we do it in as timely a manner as is feasibly possible. As such, SOREDI has earned the trust of many businesses, community leaders and partner agencies.

We visit our neighbors.  Whether it is our own team member on staff to see how they are doing, a colleague elsewhere in the building or at another agency, the next door neighbor on our street, or that “other” community we have not visited in months, we connect with others.

We are in the relationship business. Getting a fresh, outside perspective from an associate, or real out-of-the-area viewpoint when we drop in on a neighboring city, we see and hear new things. Any one of these things could turn out to be the catalyst for a great idea or a critical moment of clarity for a pressing challenge.

We do the right thing for the right reason even if it may disappoint someone.  We may not always earn the popular vote, but we are quite serious about keeping our work relevant, timely, and outcome-driven. Our hearts are big. The resources are precious. We are careful to assure that your membership investments create meaningful and impactful results for Southern Oregon.

So, as I drove home from Salem, I reclaimed that drive time to do some creative thinking and came up with my own version of TEAM to describe the rock-star staff I get to lead and serve at SOREDI.

They are Tenacious, Engaged and Aspirational Motivators.

They motivate me to be my best every day, and put up with my wonky insistence on trail names, cartoon characters, and spice rack identifiers.  They truly are the force which led to the third award mentioned above, received from OEDA – Economic Development Leader of the Year.  Yes, it is my name engraved on the beautiful glass award, but it really is a team achievement and honor.

Thank you SOREDI Staff for your hard work, encouragement, direct conversations when things go awry and your loyalty to the agency. You are Roguediculous!


Colleen Padilla, Executive Director
Trail Name “Spur”
Cartoon Character “Shaggy”
Spice Identifier “Lemon Pepper”

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