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Practicing Leadership: Leading by Example

Practicing Leadership is a three-week blog series featuring members of our Youth Advisory Council as well as participants and mentors from the Learning to Lead™ program. The series explores how young women leaders are managing during COVID-19 as they navigate disruption in routine, maintain social connections, and put their leadership into practice at home and in their communities.

The world is always in need of leaders. This is always true, but sometimes it takes times of crisis to fully recognize the value of skilled leadership. Right now, we are seeing examples of great leadership all around us. World leaders, infectious disease experts, front line workers, celebrities and family members, stepping up to help us get through these challenging times. 

We wanted to hear from our youth participants where they are finding leadership inspiration. We asked them, if you could go for coffee with anyone right now, who would it be with and why? We also asked them to share examples of great leadership, and how they are leading during this time. Here’s what they told us. 

Who would you like to meet for coffee or tea?

  • Malala Yousafzai definitely! As a woman of color, she is someone I look up to and am inspired by. Meeting her is a life goal. She has some amazing stories to tell. Riya, L2L 2017
  • Ama, my grandmother. She lost her battle to cancer before I was born but promised my parents that she would protect me. When my mom was seven months pregnant with me, she and my dad got into a terrible car accident. Their car was destroyed, but both my parents were unharmed. If I could have coffee with Ama I’d thank her with one big hug. Christal, L2L 2016
  • Mindy Kaling. Being of south Indian descent and a child of immigrants, she was one of the first figures on TV that I could relate to. She has paved the way for women and South Asian actors in mainstream media and is one of my greatest role models.  Her authenticity, ambition and work ethic are all characteristics I admire, and obviously, she’s hilarious. Rosemary, L2L 2018

Who do you see showing leadership during COVID-19? 

  • My mom has been showing great leadership. She is a nurse working at a hospital during this global pandemic. She is working to the best of her capabilities to help people in need, as well as her family. Manseen, L2L 2019
  • The deputy editor of The New York Times Magazine, Jessica Lustig. I was stunned by her eye-opening, heart-breaking story and how she candidly captured the true ugliness of COVID-19 that has affected her husband and home-life. I am thankful for her courage and compassion which I believe is what we need more of right now. Mandy, L2L 2017
  • My mom! She is a health-care worker Riya, L2L 2017
  • Jameela Jamil. She’s an actress and activist for body positivity, gender equality, LGBTQ+ equality and more. She’s genuinely inspiring and recently she’s been really providing support to those who are struggling while in lockdown/quarantine by spreading positivity and resources. Liv, L2L 2019

 How are you showing up as a leader? 

  • I started an initiative with some peers called Viral Cause. It exists to connect my school and district community with each other through live-streamed music performances through students, art displays, and sharing of stories. We are raising money for the DTES and have been working with our district board members and teachers to ensure that our community stays tight knit. Follow us on IG @_viralcause_ Jay, L2L 2019
  • One easy way to show leadership is simply by checking in on your friends and family. Everyone is going through a difficult time, and it makes such a huge difference to see that your loved ones are there to support you! Not only does the simple task of checking in help your friends, but it will also lift your own spirits! Romina, L2L 2019

Where are you seeing great examples of leadership right now? When it is safe to do so, who would you like to meet for coffee or tea?

This is a photo of two of our Learning to Lead alumnae – including Riya – with First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. 

The content for this blog series was collected between April 2 and April 9, 2020. Some responses were edited for clarity and brevity, but core messaging was retained.

Learning to Lead™ is an interactive leadership program for Grade 11 girls. All program costs are covered by donors and sponsors who believe in the leadership potential of youth. We are grateful for the support we have received in 2020 from Shaw, RBC, PwC, FLUOR, Cottonwood Foundation, Enbridge and many individual donors. 

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