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Community leaders sharpen skills
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 27 mai 2010
Courtesy photo
Marlo Turner Ritchie, Director, À deux mains / Head and Hands

Two new NDG leaders were recently recognized by Centraide of Greater Montreal and the Centre 1,2,3 GO! for their efforts to improve the conditions and quality of life of NDG citizens. They successfully completed a leadership course for directors of community organizations and community councils.

Marlo Turner Ritchie, director of Head and Hands (H&H), has completed a course in active leadership to enable her to better consult and engage residents, says Centraide spokesperson Annik Gagnon. The mission of H&H is to work with youth to promote their physical and mental wellbeing.

Turner Ritchie says the training was welcome at a time when the organization is facing challenges and opportunities. “The need is greater than ever to manage resources in creative and efficient ways,” she says. She now feels more empowered to lead the organization in partnership with her team and the greater community.

The director of Action Communiterre (AC), Kelly Krauter, was also honoured. “The organization now bears a renewed commitment to finding common ground in the community. We look for more opportunities to partner and collaborate across our differences to make NDG a community that really reflects the values we share,” she said.

The mission of AC is to raise public awareness about food security and urban agriculture. It seeks to improve the community’s access to healthy organic produce through collectively-managed vegetable gardens and other urban agricultural projects in the Montreal area.

Krauter says that taking part in the retreats helped her to challenge old notions of what it is to be a leader and to recognize, value and nurture leadership qualities in others. “An important part of our work in the community is balancing the process of inclusion with the results of our collective actions. I now feel more at ease with deciding when to step up and take responsibility, as well as when to step back and make room for others to move something forward.”

Gillian Keefe, executive director of the NDG Community Council since 2005, was honoured a year ago for successfully completing the training. She has learned that partnerships and collaboration are ways of working that produce sustainable and lasting results in the community.

The NDG Community Council is a hub of community information and networking. It works with citizens and other groups to address issues of concern and find solutions. The council focuses on quality of life and social justice issues and seeks to engage Notre Dame de Grace residents.

The training stressed the importance of different tools and strategies to deal with processes, she recalls. Working in partnership results in a more community-owned outcome. Keefe learned how important it is to balance the actions with the process. She also realized that while the French and English-speaking communities do not have many opportunities to work together they can learn a lot from each another.

Keefe also learned to recognize what is going well in the community and what its assets are. “For instance, the Bienvenue NDG is an initiative being led by a partnership of organizations that deal with families. That model is working very well, so we’re looking for different places where we can use the same kind of approach in managing a project,” she said. “It’s a different way to approach our work on a daily basis.”

[Marie Cicchini ]

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