submitted by Katie Sayers
My internship with the Inclusive Leadership Co-operative has been a powerful opportunity to work in unity with other leaders following a path toward common goals. It is amazing how opportunities cross your path – just when you need them to. When we vision our goals, make steps in the direction of them, and keep ‘our eyes open’ to the possibilities that come before us – the path will be made clear.
In April 2017, one year ago this month, I was at a time in my life of transition and change, in many areas, one of them being my career. I was exploring what truly fit with my path of service in life and what was needed now. What was my next step? Community development, leadership training, and connecting people to their inner talents and capacities are all values that I strive to reflect in whatever I have chosen to do. I wondered how it would manifest at this stage in my life.
All the while pondering this, I was also volunteering with the Inclusive Leadership Co-operative (ILC); an incredible leadership training and development organization on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. The ILC draws people from diverse backgrounds together to build skills that truly equip each individual and community with the strengths to be leaders within themselves, and to be an example to others of what unity in diversity looks like. Ultimately, the community grows and develops through this individual and collective effort and capacity building.
Each time I participated in an Inclusive Leadership workshop or event such as Connecting With Differences, or Communicating with Compassion, or Anti-Discrimination First Aid I felt ‘lit up’ and inspired from the inside out. This education resonated with many of my deepest values that I wanted to bring forth and exemplify more in the world around me.
Little did I know, that at the same time, the ILC was also going through a time in the life of the organization of transition and change. The ILC was expanding from in-person workshops and events to introducing the world to Inclusive Leadership through online education. To help bring this vision into fruition, they offered me a paid internship in Inclusive Community Relations Building!
My official start date was April 18, 2017, one year ago this month. What a rewarding and exciting time! I was ‘jazzed’ to start work each day. The growing team of people that I had the gift to work alongside each day was amazing. Each week, Linda Hill, and I would meet to discuss how I was doing in dedicating time and energy to the achievement of my goals and to help create action plans for working toward them. Experienced Inclusive Leaders helped me to bring out my talents, coached me, held me accountable to my goals and encouraged me, through their example, to follow the path that was in my heart. Some of my goals, on my path to be a Community Relations Builder, were to develop and refine my own Inclusive Leadership skills, become skilled at facilitating Inclusive Leadership workshops in schools, and become skilled at mentoring new Inclusive Leaders online. What a gift that the personal goals that I had were in alignment with the goals of the organization – I truly felt blessed.
As the months went by, I reflected on my learning, and could see that the goals we had both set were being realized. There was a unity of work between myself and the ILC team with dedication to our vision. In October 2017, after months of working steadfastly, we launched our pilot of the Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential Online Course with 20 participants from Canada, England and Tunisia. I had the gift to be a participant as well as a mentor in this course that went off with flying colors! In addition, I was co-facilitating in-person Inclusive Leadership workshops in school and university settings. I became a confident Inclusive Leadership facilitator – Woohoo! And of course, all along the way, my own Inclusive Leadership Skills expanded and grew in ways that will continue to for years to come!
My internship ended two months ago. Soon another space will open up for another individual to have this incredible opportunity. Reflecting back on this experience has me feeling humbled and full of gratitude and joy. I worked alongside amazing community leaders, while also realizing all of the goals that we had initially set for the role of the Community Relations Builder! This showed me the power that can take place when there is unity in our work and within our goals.
As I will always be an Inclusive Leader, I look forward to volunteering for the ILC and re-connecting with some of you soon! For now, I carry this experience with me to guide my path of service. Inclusive Leadership is reflected in my work, my family life and community life. Thank you!