Leadership Wood Buffalo Retreat

Leadership Wood Buffalo alum, Jody and I drove Highway 881 to Christina Lake Lodge in Conklin yesterday for the opening retreat of this community leadership program. Jody was in the third cohort, along with Karen who joined us there and Annette, who was in the first cohort with me. This is an annual tradition with the opening retreat, to invite alumni to spend an hour sharing their recollections and perspectives about the journey with the new gang.

I try my best to participate in as many Leadership Wood Buffalo activities as I can; I am not only an alum, I also sit on the board. I am passionate about this program, always have been, always will be.

The new group is made up of 19 emerging leaders from all walks of life. There is a business manager, fire and safety inspector, community liaison officer, procurement specialist, project manager and many more. They come from the nonprofit, public, retail and industry sectors and range in age from young adult to aspiring senior. The three-day retreat gives them an opportunity to learn about the program and each other. It also provides the tools for the facilitators to figure out how to group them into smaller teams of four and five.

Within their groups, the participants will select and begin planning their all-important "case studies". This is the experiential portion of the program that is often talked about as both the most challenging and the most rewarding part of the 8-month adventure.

Leadership Wood Buffalo began being talked about in 2005 by a group of leaders who were nearing retirement and recognized that there would soon be a leadership gap in Wood Buffalo. Debbie Robert, Marylea Jarvis, Pam MacGillivray, Ed Kamps, Linda Ball, Sana Elache and others were instrumental in shaping the program in the spring of 2006 and recruiting participants and sponsors to get it up, running and funded by the fall of that year. They inspired a shared vision which has already resulted in the graduation of over 70 community-minded leaders in four years.

As I contemplate a flurry of activity over the next few weeks getting ready for Election Day on October 18th, I'm pleased to be joined on the ballot by another Leadership Wood Buffalo alum, Allan Vinni; he is running in Ward 3 representing Saprae Creek Estates and Draper. While there is so much to be proud of about the Leadership Wood Buffalo program, seeing two of its alumni on Regional Council would be a real feather in our cap. I'm hoping that's a picture that comes into clear focus later this month.

OUR HOME OUR FUTURE. www.russellthomas.ca


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