Dennison set to gain leadership skills

Crystal Dennison is set to gain leadership skills through a pilot project.

Crystal Dennison is on the road to becoming a better leader.

The executive director of Nanaimo Foodshare, Dennison one of 25 Canadian women chosen to take part in a pilot project created through a partnership between the Canadian Women’s Foundation and the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia.

“I’m very excited and honoured to be given the opportunity to have the experience of being in an environment with other women leaders in our country and being able to actually come back in my community and have a greater impact,” she said.

Dennison was asked to apply to the program because of past dealings with the foundation. The program involves 23 emerging and mid-management female executives, challenging them to complete leadership self-assessments, develop action plans and learn about organizational and community-centred leadership. It runs over three years involving 75 women. Graduates of the program receive a certificate in national leadership.

Dennison leaves for  the Coady Institute Thursday (June 14) for nine days of onsite training.

“It’s pretty intense learning. It’s basically morning to evening and lots of intense evaluations,” she said.

She’ll participate in the program for a year, ending her studies next June. After the initial onsite work, she’ll continue through distance learning, monthly mentoring and coaching, and peer-to-peer learning forums.

The focus is on supporting the participants to become stronger leaders so they can come back to their communities and improve their organizations. Nanaimo Foodshare is involved in collaborative partnerships with many community groups and Dennison hopes her experience will strengthen her ability to forge more partnerships, especially with municipalities, school districts, health authorities and the provincial government.

“My goal is to engage more people in the work that we are doing,” she said.

During the year-long program Dennison will have the assistance of a coach and mentor to guide her and help implement an action plan.