With 37 participants, 4 facilitators, and 5 amazing guest speakers, the wood-laden conference room at the Niagara Falls Public Library began to hum with excitement as the clock moved closer to 9 o’clock on Friday, September 15. The first to address the new class: Leadership Niagara’s Executive Director, Shane Malcolm.

“We are so excited to have such a great group ready to start their leadership journey,” Malcolm remarked, “This year is going to bring really great things for the community of Niagara through the efforts we make as a team”.

This opening retreat marks the 10th year of the Leadership Niagara Community Leadership Program. Leadership Niagara brings together individuals recognized as emerging and aspiring leaders in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Each year, 30 to 40 applicants are selected into the program. It begins with an opening retreat, followed by a series of eight workshops between September and June. Participants are divided into work teams responsible for completion of a community project. Successful graduates join a growing network of people dedicated to ensuring a stronger, healthier, more vibrant Niagara

The leadership journey for the Class of 2017/2018 had just begun, and the group wasted no time getting to know each other and finding out who they were as a cohort: a diverse group of individuals with a common goal in community leadership. The differences in experience, skills, hobbies, and education quickly rose to the surface as the participants chatted and discussed who they were as individuals, what brought them to the program and what it looked like to create a group resume.

“I love the fact that it’s such a diverse and dynamic group,” said Andrew Winters, a new participant of the program from Niagara Region. “I’m also excited to expand my knowledge of non-profits in the area and discover how I can work with them as a team.”

Despite any differences among individuals, the common thread that was woven into the fabric of the group was evident. The idea of community impact through leadership had the participants buzzing from the first coffee poured to the last note taken, and long into the evening on a hot September Friday.

The glue that held the Class of 2017/2018 together was quickly appearing.

With a change in scenery for day 2, we were welcomed warmly to Heartland Forest in Niagara Falls and heard motivating perspectives on leadership from Niagara College’s President, Dan Patterson.

“All of the facilitators really love what they do, you can tell that instantly.” Stated Laura Fyfe of the Niagara Workforce Planning Board, “They give a lot of clarity to everything and really create an atmosphere of inclusion where you feel comfortable asking questions and feeling vulnerable.”

With lessons in self-awareness and introspection soaking in, it was clear the group was making headway on the first lesson in becoming a great leader: knowing yourself. And by the time the final note had been jotted down, the class was well on its way to making a difference in the community to which we all belong; in coming together as a team to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others.

“Everyone is really easy to talk to, everyone is really easy to approach” Fyfe continued, “I’m looking forward to learning more about myself as a leader in a guided and facilitated way. We will be going through everything together and working with the team to do something I haven’t done before.”

Thank you to our amazing guests:

  • Dan Bouwman
  • Elisabeth Graham
  • Jayne Morrish
  • Yvonne Nasri
  • Dan Patterson

And our awesome facilitators:

  • Holly Catalfamo
  • Kristine Clark
  • Shane Malcolm
  • Jodie Middleton

Stay tuned for more information about the Class of 2017/2018!

Cameron Jones
Program Assistant & Marketing Coordinator
Leadership Niagara

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