Public leadership, at its essence, is the ability to empower people and align resources towards a common goal. Often, that objective is to solve problems confronting our communities and countries. However, the nature, scale and scope of the challenges we face today have radically changed. But while our problems are modern, our leadership models are not. In fact, the way we view leadership is largely unchanged since we entered the connected age. 

That’s where the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation comes in: the Foundation is actively engaged in reinventing contemporary public leadership models as well as the ways we develop the leaders of today and tomorrow. It does so notably through its Jeanne Sauvé Public Leadership Program, which is currently centered on public leadership for culturally diverse societies.

During the residential phase of the inaugural Public Leadership Program, the 2015-17 Sauvé Fellows learned how to promote collaboration and co-creation on both individual and collective levels; they learned the art of cultural sensitivity, the science of sparking effective collective action as well as the universal language of non-violent communication.

An experience they defined as empowering, enlightening, enriching, liberating, unique, and transformative, this past year has been one of expansive learning and exploring authentic public leadership.

The crux of this year’s program took shape in three clusters of Deep Immersion Programming (DIP), followed by periods of sustained integration programming. Taking place after an intensive month of Orientation, the first weeklong DIP focused on the communications skills necessary for effective public leadership: intercultural communications, nonviolent communications, public narratives and social media for social change. March saw the Fellows’ residency at Pearson College UWC where they led peer-to-peer training, which included workshops on advocacy, culturally responsive education, fundraising for social change, and stakeholder analysis among other topics. The final DIP focused on affecting change in complex systems through creativity, systems thinking, negotiation and advocacy.

In addition, the program’s underlying current became the design and implementation of a team project based on a real-world challenge, within a context of sociocultural diversity. After creative and interdisciplinary consultations, the Fellows decided to collectively explore the complexities of refugee integration in Canada. To advance their learnings, they led a critical reading group, conducted site visits, and met with a wide range of relevant stakeholders, including refugees and parliamentarians. Their team project’s goal was to develop and pilot an approach to refugee integration in a holistic and practical way that delivered both impact and thought leadership while espousing core values of agency, inclusivity, fairness and cultural sensitivity.

In tackling the issue of refugee integration and implementing their team project, the Fellows wrote a policy brief (which they presented to several ministers while in Ottawa) and op-eds, produced a short film on refugee experiences in Montreal as well as organized a series of public events exploring refugee integration in Canada.

Closing a year of compelling public Forum events – including a electoral candidates’ debate, an evening with Irwin Cotler, a film screening on international peacebuilding, a evening of personal and political storytelling – the Fellows hosted their own Building Inclusive Communities for Refugees: A Public Leadership Challenge series throughout the months of May and June. Their approach fused community involvement, public policy and grassroots knowledge, mental health and wellness, the power of education, and changing narratives. These key areas represent ways the Fellows believe integration of culturally diverse communities can be strengthened. The combined events attracted over 400 people and raised $1,000 for refugee-focused academic programming.

Over the past ten months, the Fellows have also been busy crafting their calls for social change, refining their public speaking skills through personalized coaching, and engaging in over 30 professional development workshops. They benefitted from academic mentorship from both McGill University and Concordia University as well as peer-to-peer mentorship with Fellows from previous cohorts. Furthermore, each Fellow worked with world-renown experts in the field of managing group dynamics. During integration periods, they took part in close to 40 learning and leadership encounters with prominent figures from the worlds of academia, advocacy, the arts, business, media, politics, and philanthropy, exposing them to a wide range of inspiring leaders from different sectors. Fellows also collaborated with youth across the country (for example, with the Kahnawake Survival School in Quebec and Pearson College in British Columbia) on matters of authentic leadership. Throughout the year, they took turns hosting cultural fusion evenings at Sauvé House, shining a light on their respective cultural practices, national dishes, and religious rituals.   

The residential phase of the program has come to a close and the Fellows are returning to their home communities or exploring new opportunities. The Foundation will continue to collaborate with them over the course of the year ahead as part of the new program’s Field Phase. The Fellows will even be returning to Sauvé House next summer to present a number of program deliverables and to welcome the 2017-19 Fellows.

Reflecting back on this Sauvé Year, the Foundation is struck by just how much the Fellows have learned, grown and accomplished. And thanks to their deep engagement, we have also learned a huge amount from piloting this new, ambitious program. How we define and develop leadership today will determine our ability to ultimately solve complex societal problems. The Foundation has begun its modest contribution to changing the world’s public leadership landscape, and we thank our Sauvé Fellows for leading the way.

For photos of this past Sauvé Year, click here.

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