Irene Wright has the Courage to Lead

On an unseasonably warm evening in November, ICA Canada and its affiliates gathered at Markham House in Mirvish Village to launch our fundraising season and celebrate Irene Wright as this year’s winner of the Courage to Lead (CTL) Award.

As usual with an ICA event, we quickly moved into an in-depth exploration of the leadership challenges we are each experiencing, and a focused conversation (led by ICA Board member Ekta Bromley) leading to new insights and ideas for moving forward.

Violence in communities, efficiency in project management, guidance to children in families, and lean collaboration were some of the topics raised, and at least two of the changes people wanted to see were:

  • empowerment to see leadership without having or requiring a title
  • shrink the problem: focus on positivity

These ambitions were served by emerging insights, including:

  1. Watch out for any assumptions you may be making
  2. Take a comprehensive perspective of the situation (see #4 on the leadership compass below); look at all aspects and contributors
  3. Being a “follower” allows for critical thinking and insight into leadership

CTL Compass onlyGuests included ICA members, board and staff, ICA Associates, CTL Facilitators & Alumni, previous program donors and staff, and people who simply like what ICA stands for: developing the leadership capacity of people to contribute to positive social change.

Courage to Lead Award
The Courage to Lead Award is awarded to someone who demonstrates leadership that promotes the courage of all people to contribute to positive social change.  Past recipients have included Mary Lou Fallis, Tom Jackson, Carolyn Acker and Michelle Landsberg.

Duncan Holmes (ICA Associate and CTL Facilitator) and Kawalpreet Singh (CTL Co-Facilitator and UHN leader) talked about Irene Wright’s signal presence and authenticity, saying that “if you are talking to Irene, you are the only one in the room – no matter what else is going on.”  They recalled how she shepherded CTL into the University Health Network ten years ago, and consistently supported the program through bi-yearly deliveries to hundreds of hospital staff.

Duncan reminded us about what Irene knows so well; that “minor changes (to the course, in what we do or say in the world) can have an incredible impact.”

Here’s Irene accepting her award with the grace and inspiration to which we’re so accustomed:

Irene 2

Irene award

“It is a privilege to be part of the Courage to Lead journey,” Irene commented in her remarks, “one that is quite different from traditional kinds of leadership programs.”  She summarized the philosophy of Courage to Lead with one question: “We are all human beings (regardless of cultural background, vocational title, etc.) and how do we make a difference in our world?

Following the award presentation, MC David Buwalda and Board Chairman Suzanne Jackson briefly updated the audience on current projects underway, including work on harmful cultural practices with Il Ngwesi, indigenous language revitalization in the Kingston area (ILLI), efforts by the Leadership Community of Practice to offer “The Courage to Lead” course in new formats and to more organizations.

Thank you all for helping to make this event such a success, and may you continue to practice courageous leadership in your lives over the next year! (and make sure you tell us about it!

~ICA Canada

More pictures from the evening:

Irene 3


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