Executive Director 
Telephone # (519) 742-7338
Charitable # 887822617 RR0001

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We provide experiential leadership development opportunities, challenge people to view their community through a different lens, and foster connections with active and emerging leaders creating positive change.

Program Story

Core Program 

As you read over this overview of our work, please keep in mind that while Leadership Waterloo Region is not serving on the front lines, and doesn't have programs that assist women and children, or address food security in our community, it is the only organization that is dedicated to ensuring that every charitable agency in our community has access to trained leaders for their Board of Directors, and that our city and regional governments have access to leadership volunteers for their task forces and committees. Volunteers on the front lines and all the people they serve on a daily basis are reliant on those at the board tables to make sound, informed, intelligent decisions. That is what we are working to ensure. Launched in 2000, Leadership Waterloo Region's Core Program challenges people to view their community through a different lens by fostering connections with active and emerging leaders from all sectors, and by providing leadership development opportunities and community awareness programming. Using the community as a backdrop, the program focuses on enhancing participants' abilities to look at challenges from a variety of angles and develop creative and productive solutions. During a 10 month program (September-June), participants are offered a challenging new experience, the opportunity to meet with a hear from past and present leaders from all parts of the region, and the opportunity to work in teams on projects dealing with real community issues. Through participation, class members become part of a unique network of like-minded individuals with a sense of community trusteeship and commitment to generate a synergy to sustain and build our community. Each year, individuals identified as having outstanding potential for leadership development are offered a dynamic, region-focused community leadership experience. Applications are welcomed from anyone who demonstrates leadership qualities and participants are selected through a competitive screening process that ensures diversity of sector, geography, profession, life-experience and gender. The graduate network, now numbering more than 400 alumni, is leading change in our community. From creating new community festivals to serving in public office, to leading new collaborations, the members of this dynamic group are calling on their fellow program alumni to lend their skills and passion to their community work. But it doesn't stop there. Graduates of Leadership Waterloo's Core Program apply the skills they have honed in their workplaces once they have graduated. We recognize that a healthy community depends on contributions from all sectors: business, social profit and government. The intersectoral nature of the leadership network we are developing makes it possible for people from all walks of life to contribute as leaders.
  • Brenda Holloran, graduate of the Class of 2004, and former Mayor of Waterloo shares that she sees program alumni every day through her work in our community. Fellow members of Waterloo City Council were alumni, and everywhere she goes, she meets alumni working hard to make our community outstanding.
  • Murray Costello, District Manager for Union Gas, tells us that it is important that rising leaders from Union Gas be involved in the community. A strong, healthy community is a good place for business, so we make a commitment to supporting community efforts. As well, their employees who are graduates are bringing the skills they have learned back into their workplace and Union Gas sees a difference in the way they are leading.
  • Jen Burnham, Manager, Plant Damage Prevention, for Union Gas, agrees that as a newcomer to Waterloo Region, the Core Program was a very helpful tool to help her connect with the community. Union Gas believes that a strong, healthy community is a good place for business, and they have found the employees they have supported to participate in the Leadership Waterloo Region Core Program bring the skills they have learned back into their workplace and make a difference there too. Jen has supported employee participation since her graduation in 2003.
  • Randy Warren, Director, Distribution Compensation Services CSF at Sun Life Financial, understands the value of having an inter-sectoral network of community leaders. We have a much greater opportunity to find innovative solutions to our challenges when the three sectors can work together.
Business Sector organizations that understand the relationship between strong, healthy communities and corporate involvement and support are key to this region's success. We continue to build on the rich tradition of exemplary leadership this region has known in the past, to ensure future success.
  • Naveen Rakkar, Director of Human Resources, Tyco Simplex Grinnell, agrees that she participated because COM DEV thought it would be a good idea for her to experience the program first-hand. Following her graduation, Naveen joined the Board of Directors of the Cambridge Memorial Hospital Foundation, the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and the Leadership Waterloo Region Board. She is putting all her skills to work in ways that she would not have considered prior to her engagement with the Core Program.
Your support of the Core Program, whether financial or volunteer, will serve the community well. We encourage you to contact us if you would like more information.

Donation Impact

  • Become a volunteer on our curriculum, marketing or resource committees. We rely on the generosity and skill of approximately 200 volunteers every year to carry out the work of the organization.
  • Make a donation of goods-in-kind to assist us in our ongoing efforts to keep costs down (catering, photocopying, postage, office equipment, etc.)
  • Become a financial supporter. Here is how your donation can assist:
    • $50 donation can purchase a box of paper for our printer
    • $100 donation will cover the cost of photocopying curriculum materials for a weekend workshop
    • $150 donation will cover the cost of the Leadership Day breakfast for 30-35 people
  • A donation in any amount can be made to our tuition fund. This fund makes it possible for us to include individuals from the non-profit sector and young entrepreneurs in our 10-month program. The tuition fee for our 10-month program is $4,700 (plus a $100 application fee) and includes all costs associated with 12.5 days of training. When we are able to secure donations to our tuition fund, we are able to make tuition discounts available to outstanding candidates who otherwise would not be able to participate.

Giving Opportunity

Part of the uniqueness of Leadership Waterloo Region's Core Program is the emphasis it places on diversity in its applicants. Through support from generous donors and sponsors, we are able to assist emerging community leaders who do not have the support of their organizations, by providing tuition discounts. This ensures that the leadership network we are developing includes representation from all sectors of the community, and all the diversities present in our region. Opportunities to provide support include donations to our Tuition Fund, sponsorship of our events, and corporate/individual donations and memberships. Leadership Waterloo Region recognizes the talented and dedicated volunteers who generously donate their time and expertise to make our work possible. From recruiting to program delivery various committee volunteers unite to develop all aspects of the program. As we encourage our participants to see the community through a new lens, we also encourage new volunteers to join our team to ensure we are developing a cutting-edge and relevant program to those leaders in the community we look to attract.