Almost two years to the day since the last Women in Leadership Spotlight Dinner, the women’s basketball and volleyball teams and their guests gathered in the McInnes Room for the 12th edition Wednesday night.
Athletics and Recreation Executive Director, Tim Maloney kicked off the evening, welcoming everyone to the event. He commented on how excited he was to hear from the night’s guest speaker, Nova Scotia’s Deputy Minister of Justice, and Deputy Attorney General, Candace Thomas. Maloney also took a moment to recognize former women’s basketball coach and event founder Anna Stamberger who was unable to attend the event.
Maloney then introduced the emcees for the evening. Fourth-year Maia Timmons from the basketball team was joined on the stage by volleyball player Charlotte Arsenault. The two noted that they, along with their teammates, were excited to hear from an exceptional leader in Thomas and learn more about the night’s theme of helping others advance in their leadership and human centric leadership.
Dalhousie’s President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Deep Saini noted that what impressed him the most about the teams, and the larger student-athlete population, was that they were not only excellent athletically, but they are also amazing academically too. Dr. Saini did not want to take up much of the stage, noting that this was an event to celebrate female leaders and asked Gitta Kulczycki, Dalhousie University’s Vice-President of Finance and Administration to the stage.
Kulczycki, who joined the university in November 2020, noted how excited she was to be able to gather in person for this event, as it is one of her first events on campus.
RBC Regional President Vinita Savani next took the stage to share how pleased RBC was to be the presenting partner of this special event. She even teased the audience that this partnership was just the first they were embarking on with athletics and recreation, and that something awesome was coming in the new year.
The big draw of the night was guest speaker Deputy Minister Candace Thomas. An alumna of Dalhousie’s Schulich School of Law and the former Chair of the Dalhousie Board of Governors, this was the second Women in Leadership Dinner Thomas had attended. She started her remarks commenting on how impactful the event can be for the younger audience members in the room noting the affect it had on her daughter at the last event.
“After that night she turned a corner to find her voice and a passion for volleyball,” said Thomas.
The Deputy Minster turned her focus to the theme of the evening and coined a new term in the process. She defined what it means to be a ‘shoulder check leader’, emphasizing the importance and onus on leaders to check over their shoulder for those who are behind them, not to see how far behind you they are, but to reach out and help pull them forward with you.
Thomas added, “a shoulder check leader acknowledges and appreciates her team. She hires and surrounds herself with capable, smart and talented people and empowers and invests in their development.”
She continued to expand on what it means to be a shoulder check leader, emphasising the importance of being ‘human-centric’ and routinely checking to ensure the decisions they are making are considerate of the person they are impacting.
“I have had a few moments so far at my time at Justice where I’ve had to stop myself and do that bit of shoulder check and ask myself if the decision we are making is unfair to the employee or individual who is seeking out help from government,” recounted Thomas.
Following the Deputy Minister’s remarks, she was joined on stage by Savani and Chloe Wilson of the basketball team and women’s volleyball player Kate Fougere for a brief Q&A session. Savani asked them who their role models were. Fougere highlighted a former teammate and now assistant coach with the volleyball team, Tori Haworth.
“One thing that I really admired that she did was get out on the court with a teammate and show them how its done and always compete,” says Fougere. She went on to describe Haworth as a leader on the team and highlight some of the qualities Thomas had attributed to a shoulder check leader only moments earlier.
The Deputy Minister ended the Q&A noting that Wilson and Fougere were ‘giving advice that is well beyond their years’ and that they were already leaving an imprint those around them.
The Women in Leadership Dinner will be back in December 2022. In the meantime, both the volleyball and basketball teams return to the court in January as they look to finish their drive to the AUS championships.
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