Spotlight: Rick Coffin

What drew you to RIHEL originally?

I was originally drawn to RIHEL for several reasons. I heard stories from colleagues about how rewarding their RIHEL experiences were and I wanted to experience it for myself. I have a strong interest in personal and professional development and the Advanced Leadership Training Program (ALTP) seemed like a great learning opportunity as I would be exposed to a wealth of resources from the RIHEL faculty. I am also an environmental advocate and I looked forward to meeting my RIHEL cohorts from regional environmental and public health institutions. I am grateful that my employer, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, also sees the value in this opportunity and they are very supportive of sending staff to the ALTP.

What have you gained from your experience (as a fellow, volunteer, or coach) with RIHEL?

As a fellow I gained a deep understanding of myself, including how I react to certain situations and interactions and techniques that I can use to change any behavior that I was unhappy with. This was a powerful insight that had positive impacts in both my professional and personal life. I also gained a greater understanding of many other things, including emotional intelligence, mindfulness, professional communication (e.g., media training), and how to be effective in difficult situations. As a first-year coach I am enhancing my strategic thinking, communication, and development skills.

Why do you support RIHEL as a volunteer and coach?

I support RIHEL as a volunteer and a coach because I have been given so much from the RIHEL faculty and alumni. I want to help others receive the same benefits and growth that I have gained from my experience. The ALTP and my coach helped me navigate through a particularly difficult time in my life and I know that other fellows have had similar experiences. I also need to mention that volunteering with RIHEL is rewarding and fun! The RIHEL staff, fellows, and alumni are great, sincere people to be around.

Why is RIHEL important to you and the community?

RIHEL is important to me and the community, specifically the ALTP, because the program structure provides fellows with an opportunity for self-reflection and professional growth in a meaningful and effective manner. Anyone can read an article or a book about self-improvement or professional development, but the ALTP includes highly accurate self-assessment tools, training, and networking opportunities during 4 retreats. The retreats are structured to give you the time to reflect. We are all so busy nowadays and having this retreat time to reflect is precious because it gives you a chance to integrate what you have learned about yourself into your life and into the communities that you live and work in.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about participating with RIHEL?

I would encourage anyone who is thinking about participating in RIHEL to apply. I think that it can be useful to a person in any stage of their career. This is an opportunity for self-exploration and personal and professional growth in a safe and supportive setting. It is also a very useful networking experience, as it promotes relationship building with others in the public health and environmental sector of our region.