By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
A state legislator from Yukon has been chosen to participate in one of the country’s premier leadership development programs for state government officials.
State Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, was named a Henry Toll Fellow for the Class of 2019 through the Council of State Governments (CSG). The Henry Toll Fellowship is named for CSG founder Henry Wolcott Toll.
Each year, the CSG Henry Toll Fellowship brings 48 of the nation’s top officials from all three branches of state government together to strengthen their leadership capacities and create a strong national network.
As part of the Class of 2019, Baker will travel to Lexington, Ky. this August for an intensive six-day, five-night “leadership boot camp.”
Baker, who represents House District 60, said it was an honor to be selected for this prestigious program.
“I’m so thrilled,” she said. “To be one of 48 is so exciting. I truly can’t wait to go and learn from the other people there.
“In Oklahoma, I know how each person in the House and Senate votes and their perspectives on the issues. It will be so enlightening to go and meet people from other states since many states are going through some of the same issues that we are.”
Now serving her second term in the state Legislature, Baker anticipates learning much from other state government officials and getting to “add Oklahoma’s perspective to the conversation.”
NO DOWN TIME
The former Yukon teacher said she’s received a “packet of information” about the August leadership camp in Kentucky.
“They haven’t told us a lot,” she said. “I’ve been told to be ready for a very intense, ‘boot camp’ type of situation. That there’s no down time. We’re busy from the early mornings to the late evenings. It will be fun. It will be exciting.”
The program’s sessions are designed to stimulate personal assessment and growth, while providing priceless networking and relationship-building opportunities.
“More than anything, we will be pushed out of our comfort zone,” Baker said. “It’s going to be a bi-partisan group. We’ll interact with each other so politics and all of that is left at the door. We’ll learn more about how to be a leader and work with others of varying ideas.”
Participants like Baker had to be nominated for the Henry Toll Fellowship.
“That in itself was pretty special,” she said. “I also had to get letters of reference and fill out an application. It was kind of like applying for a job, in a way.”
The Yukon lawmaker believes the upcoming leadership boot camp will be an experience of a lifetime.
“It will be fascinating to have conversations with government leaders from other states,” she said. “It will be fun just to meet those people, get their perspectives and their leadership ideas.”
Joining Rep. Baker in Kentucky will be another Oklahoma legislator, District 85 state Rep. Cindy Munson, D-Oklahoma City.
“Cindy is awesome … she’s just a good person,” Baker said. “As a member of the Democratic Party, she votes differently than I do on many issues. But truly she is such a kind person.
“I have always said it doesn’t matter how people vote, but we have to treat each other with respect. And we must understand we all have to vote the way that’s best for our district. Attacking each other is not the way to get things done. And Cindy believes that too.”
Founded in 1933, The Council of State Governments serves all three branches of state government. CSG is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy.
This offers regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships.