When I began my journey in the Master of Arts in Leadership program at RRU, I was in my fifth year as mayor for the Town of Golden. Although my tenure in local government was mainly successful and gratifying, I felt disillusioned with my job and considered the program as an exit strategy out of political life. I wanted to obtain some academic credentials to augment my leadership capabilities and improve my job marketability. I had not banked on the impact the MAL experience would have on my personal, professional, spiritual, and emotional way of being in the world. Despite the sober realities of additional time and financial pressures, this program was one of the highlights of my life. After years of personal reading, reflection, and lived experience, the opportunity to have it coalesce in an academic forum was a dream come true. Week after week, the readings resonated with my internal processes and gave me an opportunity to reflect on ideas to tackle my leadership challenges. As time went on, the frustration and disappointment I felt in my role as mayor became valuable life lessons that inspired me to be different in my work and my life.
As a natural extension of not only my job but my passion, I chose the topic of asset management and community engagement as my OLP. It was a timely project since the infrastructure deficit is the biggest issue facing all local governments’ right across the continent. Because of its relevance, I have had the opportunity to share my research findings at local government conferences throughout BC and Alberta including Vancouver, Kelowna, Cranbrook, Grand Forks, Penticton, Nakusp, and Edmonton. I am thrilled that this report is a living, breathing project with lasting impact.
It was ironic that my life as both an elected official and a MAL student came to an end at roughly the same time. When I finally decided not to run for a third term as mayor, it was not from a place of anxiety, stress, or overwhelm; it was from a calm, confident, and clear sense that I finished well. I felt that I embraced change and faced my challenges with courage. As a result, I left office on a high note. I attribute that to the profound experience I had in this program and the effort I expended to integrate my learning into my daily life. I am deeply moved and profoundly grateful for the ways that this unprecedented educational opportunity has influenced my internal and external world. It has given me a language and a vehicle to animate what lay dormant in my soul. This program has not only transformed my leadership, it has also transformed my life.