Leadership graduates set to take on new challenges

Tim Collins

VICTORIA NEWS

On Wednesday, May 17, Leadership Victoria will graduate 13 students as part of its class of 2017 and, in so doing, will add to Victoria’s pool of emerging community leaders.

Whether they are destined for public, private and non-profit sectors of our community, Susan Low, executive director of the society, is confident graduates will enter the community as better leaders, prepared to contribute to the creation of a healthier community.

An indicator of the program’s success can be found in what some alumni have accomplished, said Low. Maja Tait, the mayor of Sooke, graduated from the program, as did Saanich Coun. Colin Plant. There are graduates on the board of Victoria’s Downtown Business Development Association and on the boards of groups like the Women’s Transition House Society. In the 16 years the program has been running, there have been more than 300 graduates who have made an impact in all walks of life in the city.

“The fact is that we have to constantly renew the leaders who are prepared to step up and take action in the community, to accept the challenges we face and provide the leadership we need to tackle the tough situations. Without leadership, nothing would ever happen,” Low said.

The 2017 graduates are no less impressive, said Low, going on to describe some of the real life projects students have completed inthe community, including the establishment of Neighbour Day (May 7), the production of a video about the importance of diversity in the city, and the painting of a mural to celebrate and promote Power To Be (an accessibility program to allow those with a disability to access nature).

Wendy Stone, one of this year’s graduates, was involved in the mural project and recounted how the team learned about negotiation and collaboration throughout the process.

“You’d think it wouldn’t be that difficult to get a mural done, but we had to scout locations, get the approval of the building owners, the tenants, Power To Be, and the artist for what is eventually going to go up,” said Stone.

“All these stakeholders had to be brought to a common vision of what we wanted to accomplish. They had very different ideas and concerns so it was an exercise in consensus building.”

Stone added the program gave her a stronger appreciation of her own strengths and the areas she needed to improve. It’s a skill set she is already putting to good use in her role as a program coordinator with Victoria’s Cool Aid Society.

Graduates of the program earn a learning credit towards the Camosun College Certificate in Leadership Development. Applications are now open and the registration is already half full for next year. Applications will be accepted until June 27 at leadershipvictoria.ca.

The celebration takes place at the Baumann Centre (925 Balmoral St.), from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

editor@vicnews.com