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Our Leader Spotlight – Christopher Yendt

Leadership Niagara Diversity Scholarship Recipient

This series is dedicated to introducing and celebrating the participants of the ACL+ 2021 program. Each week, we will focus on one of our leaders, sharing a little bit about them and what motivates them to explore community leadership in Niagara.

Christopher Yendt first came to Niagara in 2009 to study concurrent education at Brock University. Over a decade and three degrees later he has become enamoured with the local community and dedicated to improving the lives of others. He is serving his second term as the President of the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) at Brock University while completing a fourth-degree, a Master of Education.

Christopher’s personal experiences within the field of mental health sparked a passion for community service. He currently serves on the Board President for the Niagara Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), having served previously in the roles Vice-President, and Treasurer. He has also served on the Board of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce and as Past-Chair of NEXTNiagara.

Why are you personally motivated to explore civic leadership?

Community is captivating, having first come to Niagara a decade ago I developed a deep attachment to the region because I became invested in volunteering. First with local radio, then campus life and most recently mental health care and community health.

Most of my experiences and learning around civic leadership have been informal, and they have captivated my attention by allowing me to see the promise that our community must make meaningful change for all members of the region. I have seen incredible change and impact made by dedicated champions and the opportunity that arises from having more people become champions.

Ultimately my motivation stems from my personal mission, ‘to plant seeds for trees I will never sit under and cultivate gardens I will never enjoy’. Knowing that the actions we take now will ripple across the pond for decades to come, and if action is undertaken with a holistic, long-term, community approach then the benefits will follow. I want to explore civic leadership because learning is never complete and further refinement of knowledge is both personally interesting and professionally beneficial.

What, in your view, is the most significant issue/opportunity facing our community? Why?

Entering 2020 Mental Health was a challenge within the region, as it was for so many areas across the country. The COVID19 pandemic has not only increased the demand for strained resources but has also increased the instances of individuals experiencing mental health concerns. This increase is incredibly present at the post-secondary level, and without more meaningful intersections between campus and community life these experiences could become long-term concerns.

There is a real solution, given the breakdown of the region, for a made-in Niagara solution, where increased awareness through advocacy campaigns drives interest in developing initiatives that place those most at risk for developing mental health concerns into spaces that support and affirm them. Giving individuals the opportunity to feel as though they are making meaningful contributions to not only their own lives but the lives of others as well.

What individual attributes do you hope to develop or expand upon?

I would like to expand my knowledge of community issues and needs beyond the sectors I current operate in, I want to develop my public speaking and presentation skills while also addressing confidence in my capabilities as a community leader.

I want to expand on my abilities to delegate and improve communication skills with team members. Finally, I want to better understand my own limits and capacity when it comes to commitments to projects outside of work. I consider myself a bit of a ‘yes’ person, who often agrees to new opportunities without gauging the ability to commit to them meaningfully and effectively.

May 24th, 2021