Alysha is an outgoing and adventurous individual born and raised in the Niagara Region.
Attending Brock University and obtaining two Bachelor’s Degrees in Child and Youth Studies and Sociology – Alysha then went on to work in the non-profit sector. Alysha worked with both at-risk and high-risk children and youth in educational, recreational and social services settings. Recently, she joined the team at United Way of St. Catharines and District as a Campaign Associate managing employee workplace campaigns that raise money to fund programs and special initiatives to help those in need.
In her spare time, Alysha enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing rugby, doing CrossFit and travelling.
I define community leadership as the coming together of forces that are capable of improving a local issue within the community. Community leaders are an individual and/or group who recognize specific issues within a community and not only resolve to find solutions, but also seek to understand all aspects of the situation that creates the issues as well as their impact on possible solutions.
I am personally motivated to explore community leadership because (1) I want to make a difference (2) I believe that the more people become leaders, the more issues we will solve – issues in areas such as: youth development, economic growth, substance abuse, mental health, the environment etc. -and (3) we need leaders from all walks of life in order to achieve a truly democratic society.
As someone with an educational background in Child and Youth Studies and Sociology, social issues and challenges that individuals and groups face sit very dearly to my heart and I have always had a strong desire to make a significant difference in the world. Moreover, my education really drove me to become an advocate and I think advocacy and community leadership go hand,-in-hand because both are powerful and important catalysts for the change we want to see in our community.
In my opinion, the most significant issue facing our community is mental illness because of its role in overall health. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 86,000 people in Niagara struggle with their mental health and every eight days in this region, one person dies by suicide. My professional experience as a youth care worker with at-risk and high-risk youth has given me an in-depth look at mental health and addictions.
“According to the Canadian Mental
Health Association, 86,000 people in
Niagara struggle with their mental
health and every eight days in
this region, one person
dies by suicide.”
Some ways I would tackle this issue are: (1) continuously educating myself about the facts around mental health and stigma in the Niagara Region (2) getting positive conversations started about mental health with friends, family and colleagues (3) taking a critical eye to the way mental health is presented in the media and/ or in conversations (4) informing myself and others about current programs in Niagara that are in place for helping people in need and (5) seeing the person and not the illness. With my previous position as a youth care worker, “seeing the person and not the illness” was a very significant part of my job because it is important not to define or judge someone by their health problem but to see the individual for who they are. Furthermore, in my current position at United Way, I am now responsible for educating workplaces about these issues and how we – as a community – can support programs to help others succeed thus showing the significance of staying informed.
In my view, the most important attribute of a leader is the ability to care about others. This is because people will trust you and look up to you if they know you are about them and about others. I believe that the greater your ability to care about all people, the more confidence they will have in you.
An attribute I would like to expand upon is my self-awareness. I believe that a good community leader should be knowledgeable about their own strengths and weaknesses. Throughout my university education and my professional experience, I have found that self-reflection is a really important tool in order to help you both develop and enhance skills as well as set and accomplish goals. Another attribute I would like to expand upon is my interpersonal skills. I consider myself a very outgoing and friendly individual, however, I have moments where I feel shy in new situations.
I think it is important to be able to interact with other members of the community with ease. That being said, I hope to enhance my communication and collaboration skills so that I no longer have shy moments.