Leadership Wood Buffalo - a family affair

The alumni committee for Leadership Wood Buffalo put on a terrific Christmas social yesterday at Centre Boreal in Abasand.  Hosted by the Francophone Association with food provided by a brand new French caterer working in the community - Bleu Azur Traitent (780-370-9821, bleu_azur@outlook.com), it was a wonderful family affair and a reunion of past and present participants in this community leadership program.

Looking back on the birth of Leadership Wood Buffalo, and many of the key leaders who had the vision and forethought to get it started (several long since gone from our community), I couldn't help but think of the miracle of how we all came to be together.  I'm trying to picture the map of where we came from and the collision points along the way that saw us all go through this eight-month learning experience at various times in the eight years that the program has been running.  It would be a complex and compelling network of crisscrossing lines that would stretch to all corners of the globe.

I felt at an advantage at the event because I've had the honour to engage with each cohort, either as a learning day presenter, mentor, coach or board member.  Most faces are familiar to me, with a growing number becoming much more than familiar as we work with each other on myriad committees, community endeavours and projects.  While not all of us remain in Fort McMurray, the presence of Leadership Wood Buffalo can be felt in all sectors and all levels.  In fact, the program has reached a maturation point where grads from some of the earlier years who had left have begun cycling back to our community.  Beth Anthony and Mark Hodson from my cohort, the inaugural class, both have returned to Fort McMurray making significant contributions.

Seeing the contrast of the babies in the room, younger kids running around, and older kids like my son Dylan engaging with the adults, it was clear that Leadership Wood Buffalo is not only a community leadership affair, it is also a family affair.  And each time we meet with each other, embrace a challenge, participate in a workshop, engage in dialogue or attend a celebration, our roots strengthen and our potential as an alumni to realize the vision set out by the originators of the program in the spring and summer of 2006.

Leadership Wood Buffalo is evolving and changing.  It will soon be desolved as an organization and join the new entity called Fuse Social Wood Buffalo Society.  But fear not, this is a great thing, an illustration of what happens when we break down silos and start working together across organizations and sectors.  Leadership Wood Buffalo, as a community leadership program will remain and be strengthened by Fuse Social under the leadership of the Chief Social Innovator, Manny Makia. To use a sports metaphor, our bench strength has taken a massive leap forward.  With the team of Jenn Lamontagne and Alexandra Tarasenco running the program, with support from the great team at Fuse Social, myriad facilitators and presenters, and a growing family of alums, the future of Leadership Wood Buffalo has never been brighter.

I'm grateful that I was able to participate in this program all those years ago and am able to continue being a part of it in several ways.  If you want more information about this life-changing, community-building leadership program, contact Program Manager Jenn at 780-838-3883.  She would love to chat with you about how to get you or one of your staff members signed up for 2014-2015.


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