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Class of 2018 Choose Their Community Projects

Anticipation was high as Leadership Niagara’s Community Leadership Program convened for the second time this year. On a warm and sunny Friday in late October, it was time for the class of 2018 to select their community project work and decide how they would positively impact the Niagara region over the next 7 months.

Community projects, the cornerstone of the Community Leadership Program, are the way in which program participants engage the Niagara community through non-profit project work. During the October Learning Day, Niagara based non-profit organizations pitched specific projects they were seeking assistance with to the program cohort. The participants then selected which organization, and project, they would like to work with during their time in the program. All while developing their own leadership skills, the Leadership Niagara participants work in groups to complete the task set out by the respective non-profit organization they chose to work with.

The non-profit organizations in attendance this year were the Niagara Farm Project, Niagara Falls Lightning Gym, the Learning Disabilities Association of Niagara Region, Hotel Dieu Shaver, St. Catharines Wing Fest and the Powerhouse Project.

As an additional option, the participants also had the opportunity of selecting a “passion project”, where they were able to nominate, vote on, and champion a particular issue facing the Niagara region.

“There was a lot of anticipation going into today because the project selection is such a big part of the program” remarked Andrew Roth, a participant from Brock University, “We have an obligation to our project and to our team, so you don’t want to let either them down; you want to do your best”.

Having 6 non-profit organizations pitch their project, plus a passion project, meant the 2018 cohort had a lot to consider. As the morning rolled on, and the participants had an opportunity to go around the room and talk with the various organizations, the room came alive with chatter. Deciding which non-profit they would ultimately work with, and which project they would choose, dominated the topic of conversation as it drew nearer to selection time.

With the lunch hour to reflect on and recap what they had learned that morning, each participant was ready to make their project selection. As the class filled up chart paper with sticky-notes containing their name indicating their preference for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice, respectively, the project groups began to fill out. It didn’t take long for everyone to make their choices, but the groups were still not cemented; some projects needed more bodies, and some projects needed less. However, after a brief discussion, some idea sharing, and true philanthropic leadership, the groups had reshuffled and the 2018 community projects were set.

Through their chosen projects, the class of 2018 has the potential to make big impacts in the Niagara community as exampled by projects from previous years. Often times the Leadership Niagara graduates will go on to become volunteers or board members of the organizations they chose to work with.

“It’s great to see the enthusiasm this year’s cohort has for community engagement.” said Shane Malcolm, Leadership Niagara’s Executive Director, “All of the organizations here today have amazing stories and projects to offer, so I can imagine the class had some really tough decisions to make.”

The 2018 Community Leadership Program will reconvene on November 17th to continue project work and develop leadership skills.

Thank you to our amazing guests:

  • Damian Goulbourne
  • Adrienne Jugley
  • Adrian Petrachenko

And our awesome facilitators:

  • Alison Braithwaite
  • Holly Catalfamo
  • Kristine Clark
  • Shane Malcolm
  • Jodie Middleton
  • Jeff Sinclair

Stay tuned as we continue to follow the exciting journey of the 2018 Leadership Niagara class!

New Class Underway as Opening Retreat Finishes in Style – Blog Post

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 inched closer to 9 o’clock. The first to address to 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”.

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. Namely, 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 snapshot.

“I love the fact that its such a diverse and dynamic group” said Andrew Winters, a new participant of the program from Brock University. “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.”

In compliment to the diversity seen around the room, the common thread that was woven into the fabric of the group was evident: The idea of community impact through leadership. A concept and purpose that 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 becoming evident.

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, to begin the second leg of the opening retreat.

“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 starting to soak in it was clear the group was making headway on the first lesson in leadership: knowing yourself. And by the time the final note had been jotted down on the second day, 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. 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