DOINews: OSMRE/VISTA Alumna Honored with AmeriCorps National Leadership Award

Last edited 09/05/2019

OSMRE-VISTAs Miriam Gillow-Wiles and Katrina Dahlman adopting a
Miriam Gillow-Wiles and her fellow VISTA Katrina Dahlman show off their "can-do" attitude. Photo by OSMRE/VISTA Team.
OSMRE-VISTA alum Miriam Gillow-Wiles
Miriam Gillow-Wiles, a former OSMRE/VISTA in the West is a winner of an Americorps Alums National Leadership award. Photo by Red Scarf Shots

As part of the Volunteers in Service to America's 50th Anniversary, VISTA conducted a national competition for five AmeriCorps Alums National Leadership Awards. One of those five National Leadership Awards went to Miriam Gillow-Wiles, a former OSMRE/VISTA in the West.

Fifty years ago, President Johnson announced the first cohort of Volunteers in Service to America, beginning what is now a long legacy of national service by VISTA Volunteers fighting poverty across America. Since the program began, 190,000 VISTA alums have helped build capacity in some of our nation's poorest communities.

Each winner exemplifies commitment to a lifetime of service to their community. They are dedicated to increasing the capacity of their communities and expanding economic opportunity. Using the foundation they created as VISTAs, these winners continue to solve community challenges.

Gillow-Wiles' service as an OSMRE Western Hardrock Watershed Team VISTA from 2009 – 2010 in Durango, Colo., inspired a life-long career in government service. As a VISTA, Gillow-Wiles generated more than $20,000 in in-kind resources for her site and engaged hundreds of community members. She also developed skills that taught her how to work with diverse groups of people and how to address issues related to poverty alleviation and economic development. Regarding her term as an OSMRE/VISTA, Gillow-Wiles said, "I would not be here without the skill development, leadership development, and leadership opportunities from both AmeriCorps VISTA and AmeriCorps State/National."

Following the hard work of Gillow-Wiles, the members of the OSMRE/ VISTA Western Hardrock Watershed Team continue their efforts to revitalize communities with a history of mining in the Mountain West. During fiscal year 2014, the 37 members of the team secured more than $300,000 in grant funding, recruited 11,200 hours of volunteer service, and engaged nearly 8,100 youth in an educational setting.

Gillow-Wiles shared, "My community service and engagement at 20 was different than at 30, and what I do at 50 will be vastly different than what I do at 80. The common thread weaving through the different times in my life is, and will continue to be, a responsibility to my community."

Currently, Gillow-Wiles is the executive director of the Southwest Colorado Council of Governments, a region that covers 6,500 square miles, encompassing more than 95,000 people. She works to increase efficiency in local governments and alleviate community challenges connected to ageing, environment, housing, telecommunications, transportation, tourism, and economic development.

By: Sara Eckert, public administration fellow, OSMRE

March 6, 2015

Related Link:

OSMRE/VISTA Initiative

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