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Leader Spotlight – Thalia Semplonius

Thalia Semplonius, Research Associate, Niagara Workforce Planning Board

Thalia Semplonius is originally from Waterloo, ON but moved to Niagara in 2011 to pursue her graduate studies in the Department of Psychology at Brock University. She completed her MA degree in 2013 and completed her PhD work in June of 2018.

Tailoring her degree towards a focus on research methods and analysis, Thalia sought opportunities for workforce experiences outside a university setting. She currently is working as the Research Associate at the Niagara Workforce Planning Board where she is involved in researching any and all data that are workforce related.

How do you define community leadership?

I define community leadership as an individual who has taken opportunities to become involved in the community in which they reside. In addition, these individuals use opportunities to have their voices heard when forums allow. For example, if attending meetings with people from other organizations, they would ensure that if they have opinions or thoughts pertinent to the issue at hand, they are voiced.

“…[Leaders] use opportunities to have their voices heard when forums allow.”

Why are you personally motivated to explore community leadership?

I am personally motivated to explore community leadership because, although I have been living in Niagara for seven years, my focus has been predominantly on my academic work. Given the recent completion of my degree, exploring leadership opportunities in Niagara is of interest both because it will allow me to become more familiar with the region I now call “home”, but also because I think contributing to the community in which I reside is vital to ensuring Niagara keeps being a place where individuals love to live.

“…I think contributing to the community in which I reside is vital to ensuring Niagara keeps being a place where individuals love to live.”

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

In my view one significant issue within Niagara – although not only in Niagara – is mental health. Data from Statistics Canada indicated that in 2016, the age group with the largest percent of individuals reporting fair or poor mental health were those between 18 and 34 years of age (8.7%). Unfortunately, these data are not available for Niagara, but we know that many mental health problems have their onset throughout adolescence and tend to persist throughout young adulthood and adulthood. Substance use disorders – which tend to co-occur with mood disorders – tend to start throughout young adulthood as well.

How would you go about tackling the issue?

Given these characteristics, this is an issue but also an opportunity for Niagara to expand its capacity for dealing with mental health problems in the community. We have large health centres in the region and, considering the recent availability of mental health first aid training, this is an area requiring support that can be promoted even more. To tackle this issue, continued training for individuals – not just employers but the general public – should be made available for helping individuals who may experience a mental health crisis.

In your view, what’s the most important attribute of a leader?

In my view, one of the most important attributes of a leader is to be able to effectively communicate and delegate tasks and roles to individuals with whom they work. However, this must be balanced with interpersonal abilities as well. These abilities include listening to others’ opinions, thoughts, and responses to ideas you may have and incorporating them to ensure all voices are heard. Using these strategies, I think, are effective tools for leadership.

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

Personally, I hope to develop more skills in the area of role delegation given that I may have opportunities in the future to supervise students or interns in my position at NWPB. Given my work throughout graduate school, I have been involved in a variety of group research projects and found that the above strategies appear to be effective for leadership.

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February 22nd, 2019