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  • Writer's pictureLeadership Victoria

Leadership Victoria from the Beginning

Planning for the establishment of Leadership Victoria began in 2001. That spring, executives from the J.Q. McConnell Family Foundation approached the board of Volunteer Victoria to gauge their interest in establishing a local community leadership program to nurture the region's emerging generation of community leaders. By the summer, Volunteer Victoria had agreed to host this exciting new program. With three years of seed funding secured from the McConnell Foundation, and additional financial support from the Victoria Foundation and the United Way of Greater Victoria, Leadership Victoria was created as a program of Volunteer Victoria.

Program development began with extensive cross-sector consultations among current leaders in the Capital Regional District. A curriculum steering committee brought together engaged leaders from throughout the region in helping to define and develop the program. Following the model of existing community leadership initiatives in other cities, the aim was to create a curriculum that would focus equally on on essential leadership competencies and real-life community issues. The ambitious goal was to create a program that was richly experiential, that would leave a legacy of lasting community impact, and that would establish a durable network of highly engaged, committed leaders.

Program development was swift. Less than a year after planning began, a class of 24 participants from a wide range of backgrounds representing the diversity of our community launched the program at the first three-day opening retreat in September 2001. CFB Esquimalt hosted the first graduation ceremony in June 2002. Since then, and through the continued efforts of more than 100 volunteers and staff, Leadership Victoria has grown into a sustainable, highly regarded, professionally-delivered program.

In 2007, the Volunteer Victoria board and the Leadership Victoria Advisory Board decided that the program had grown sufficiently and that the time was right for Leadership Victoria to establish itself as an independent organization. In early 2008, the Leadership Victoria Society was created. As an independent society, Leadership Victoria gains the ability to pursue new partnerships, access new funding sources, and plan for an even better leadership learning experience.

The Community Leadership Program concept started in the United States in response to a need to organize community activities around the civil rights movement. Cities dealing with the growing social unrest also recognized that responsible, collaborative leadership was needed to build and maintain healthy communities. Developing this capacity meant expanding a community's leadership base.

This observation was tragically reinforced when a plane carrying many of Atlanta's young leaders crashed in 1969. In the face of such a great loss, a group of citizens formed Leadership Atlanta to fill the immediate need and to ensure there would always be a steady supply of community-minded leaders.

Since then, the Community Leadership Association has assisted in developing leadership programs throughout the United States and Canada, and has promoted expansion of these programs into other countries. There are now about 1500 community leadership programs worldwide.

The first community leadership program in Canada - Leadership Vancouver - was co-founded by Volunteer Vancouver and the Vancouver Board of Trade in 1991.

Visit our website for more information about Leadership Victoria's Community Leadership Development Program!

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