Leadership La Plata's roots date back to 1980 when current head of the Colorado State Transportation Commission and former Bank of Colorado President, B. Stephens (Steve) Parker, moved to Durango and suggested the idea to then Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jasper Welch, now a business consultant and director of the Enterprise Center at San Juan College. Steve, who had lived and worked on the Front Range, had witnessed the success of Leadership Denver and saw the potential for a similar program in La Plata County.
Though the impetus was there, it took until 1988 when the Durango Area Chamber Resort Association (DACRA) was organized for LLP to be implemented. Parker, Welch and Harold Green assembled the first Steering Committee comprised of individuals representing a cross-section of the county. The founding fathers and mothers wanted to ensure LLP was “community-based” and not an elite “club,” and that directive continues today. Founders include Barney Anderson, Richard Ballantine, Dan Bowser, Alice Joiner, Joel Jones, Bill Mashaw, Dave Potter, Tom Compton, Bill Gardner, Kay James and Leonel Silva. Leadership Montezuma and Leadership San Juan were subsequently created based on the La Plata model.
Now a successful and honored program of the Durango Chamber of Commerce, LLP enjoys more than 500 graduates, ranging from politicians and businesspeople, to non-profit directors and involved citizens and retirees – because leadership is needed in every aspect of a community.