Reflections of a Soon to Be Past-President
When the Communications Committee asked if I would be willing to share my thoughts on the experience of being President of CEWIL, I accepted, knowing that this would be a difficult reflection to write. Not because I'm not ready to leave my role, but because of the immense emotions I have attached to being in this role for the past two years.
To say it's been a ride is an understatement. When I decided to run for President over 3 years ago, there were many life choices I had to make at the time. One of them was deciding to pursue my Master's degree or taking on the CEWIL presidency. I decided that what I was going to learn as President, at that moment in time for WIL in Canada, was something that I could not replicate in a Master's program. Little did I know how true that would be, considering the onset of the pandemic and the lasting aftershocks that we continue to feel. I have since started my Master's in Leadership at the University of Guelph's Lang School of Business - which I was inspired to pursue, in part, due to the experiences that I've had as President of CEWIL.
In October of 2019, the organization's momentum and its previous leadership allowed me to come in with a strong foundation and a Board invigorated and passionate about the future of WIL in Canada. I was excited to create foundational values for CEWIL (which will be distributed soon – it only took me two years - still, I think we can all understand that there was a wrench or two thrown in the way) and carry on with the strategic plan the previous Board had developed.
As with many volunteer organizations and their leadership, the succession planning for the Board needs to be as seamless as possible to continue the excellent work of the organization, and we are no different. We seemed to be going along great! We were launching our first ever WIL month, creating a Canadian Charter to ensure the sustainability of quality WIL and growing our membership under an expanded mandate.
We all know what comes next as you were there alongside! I have spoken at length about the organization's acceleration on March 13, 2020. But, I haven't talked about the trials and challenges of the weight of being President since that time. Over the last 20 months, no matter what the circumstance or the challenges that were in front of me, the reason CEWIL was successful was that we came together as a community. We continue to navigate economic and societal changes and challenges, celebrate successes, launch historical projects and carve new directions for the organization under ambiguity and distress. This intense work has been done because we are a passionate group of dedicated volunteers who have cared deeply about our stakeholders. But, most of all, we have cared about each other. The care, collaboration, and dedication of this community have allowed CEWIL to not only survive but thrive. Thankfully, I actually excel in chaos – and chaos is what we have been in.
Gratitude and appreciation are two small words that attempt to convey my feelings for this community. So many individuals supported me in this role from behind the scenes (they know who they are). I am forever thankful for having had you alongside me on this journey. There are colleagues who have turned friends, friends who have turned confidants and a community who made this vast country feel like a small neighbourhood I could go to for support and kindness. Thank you all for your grace, confidence in me, and commitment to this organization. Through the power of volunteerism, over the last almost 50 years, this organization has achieved remarkable things.
CEWIL is in great hands as we continue to move forward into our next 50 years. We continue to have an opportunity to develop like never before. The chance to emerge from disruption and uncertainty, yet built on a solid foundation. The opportunity to embrace change and innovation ensures that our members are represented and heard - from across the country, representing different types of WIL, from various organizations and institutions that bring diverse experiences, thoughts, and perspectives to our work. The new world that we are all emerging into is an opportunity to build back better.
I look forward to serving the community in the background as I pass the baton on to the future of CEWIL. When we travel again, I look forward to meeting/seeing you all in person. It has been my pleasure to serve as your CEWIL President (from the comfort of my own home mainly)! Thank you all for an extraordinary two years!