Leadership Victoria is a community-based organization that champions community leadership at the local level. We sat down with Leadership Victoria’s Executive Director, Mark Crocker, to find out about Leadership Victoria in greater depth.
What is Leadership Victoria and what is your mission?
“Leadership Victoria has been around for 21 years to support community leadership development in Greater Victoria. We do so through four sectors: the public sector, not for profit, academic institutions, and businesses. We celebrate local community leadership.”
What does community leadership mean?
“This is a question we get all the time. And it’s complicated, right? What’s the difference between community leadership and other kinds of leadership? Community leadership, to me, is when you walk out into the neighbourhood and you see a problem in the neighbourhood, and someone says, ‘Ah, someone’s gotta do something about that.’ You know who that someone is? It’s a community leader. They step up, they find the resources, they mobilize people, and they make things happen because they really believe in making lasting changes to our communities.”
How did you get involved with Leadership Victoria?
“My role was involved in community development in an international sense for most of my career. And so, for 25 years or so I was using Canadian tax dollars in places like Congo and Haiti and Japan. But it really came full circle for me because when I came to Leadership Victoria, it really matched what my passion is, which is sustainable community development. It’s all about finding local solutions to local issues, local problems, and supporting people here, locally. And so I got to do that internationally, and now I get to do it here at home.”
How do you think Leadership Victoria positively impacts the community?
“Leadership Victoria is all about the community. We show this in two significant ways. Our Community Leadership Development Program, from which a cross-sector of people join every single year for a seven-month program, is one. We engage in Community Learning Days with folks from businesses, from local not for profits, from a wide range of places. We also do this through the Victoria Community Leadership Awards, which is our annual celebration of community leadership, held at the government house. It’s happening this May 26th with her honour the Lieutenant Governor. We’re just so pleased to be able to come back in person again to do this and to celebrate local community leadership.”
If someone had never heard of Leadership Victoria before, what is one thing you wish you could tell them?
“The thing that I think most people need to know about Leadership Victoria is just how local we are. We support leadership development with an immediate sense of handshakes and cellphone numbers in the Capital Regional District. It’s not about leadership development in a worldwide sense, it’s about what happens when a pandemic happens and someone here is defining support for some project that needs to happen here. A really simple example of that was, at the beginning of the pandemic, when the mayor’s office called me and said, ‘hey, I just need Lisa’s cellphone number from Volunteer Victoria.’ And I’m able to supply that because I know these people and these individuals.”
“And when the pandemic hits, when something goes wrong, there’s connections, there’s interactions, people find the resources they need to make a real difference immediately in our community.”
Is there any special ingredient to making Leadership Victoria as amazing as it is?
“The special ingredient that makes Leadership Victoria work is our members, is our community partners, is our folks out there who say, ‘we believe in community to such a degree that we’re going to put our time and effort into developing our staff and to finding folks out there to support them in their local community leadership.’ We’re so amazed at these partnerships with organizations that have been around for a really long time in supporting the community.”
Do you have any stories that encapsulate what makes Leadership Victoria unique?
“Leadership Victoria is a unique organization in terms of what it is we do. I know in the last municipal election five people were elected with a direct connection to Leadership Victoria. Our impact is from in front in this way but I think that our biggest impact always is beside or from beneath. And leadership to us is finding out the complex problems that we need to face and mobilizing people and resources and time to make things happen.”
Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
“We are currently enrolling for our 2022-2023 community leadership development program. If you are in a business or an employer and you’re looking at the next steps for an employee and you’re thinking, they should really grow in a certain capacity–maybe you’ve given them some opportunities and it’s time for them to step up–consider putting them through our leadership development program. It’s not an academic program. It happens in collaboration and in community. People love its interactive nature. And we’re really looking to see a lasting difference happen in our communities.”