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Learning to Lead

Disney When Lindsey Biron was invited to attend the Building Our Leaders of Tomorrow (BOLT) institute at Disney World she was thrilled. “It meant that I’m a leader,” says Lindsey, who is part of Valley’s Today and Tomorrow program. Lindsey and Cat Alterisio, accompanied by Adult and Transitional Services Director Heather Valcanas, represented the adult program at the three-day long leadership program in Orlando.

The institute is aimed at helping young people develop their own leadership skills. Lindsey says that the experience of meeting so many people from across the country and working collaboratively with them to solve problems made her feel better prepared to step up at work and at Valley. “I learned to be more open minded and that I really like meeting new people,” says Lindsey, who joined the Today and Tomorrow program last summer and recently began working at the Panera Bread Company in Billerica.

Among the highlights of Cat and Lindsey’s BOLT experience: a problem-solving activity that required them to construct an emergency vehicle using nothing but supplies on hand, including cardboard and balloon. Both say that a behind-the-scenes visit to Animal Kingdom was the best part of the trip. (Did you know that snakes and rats get shipped frozen to the park for their animal residents’ consumption?) And both Cat and Lindsey say that their time at BOLT opened their eyes to how they can become better leaders.

Cat says that leadership has always come naturally to her, including at Valley’s Transitional High School, which she attended prior to joining the adult program. “I was one of the more mature students in class so people looked up to me,” says Cat, who works independently at Market Basket as a cashier. Her experiences at BOLT helped her see what she needs to take her leadership skills to the next level. “I need to expand my horizons and be less shy about talking to new people,” says Cat. “BOLT forced me to get out of my bubble.”

For Lindsey, the Orlando adventure confirmed a passion for observation. As part of her trip, Lindsay assisted newsletter editor Jennifer Berkshire by taking detailed notes about the experience. “I didn’t want to forget anything that happened,” says Lindsey.