Helen Tewolde is currently the Manager of Program and Partnership Development at George Brown College, a 2011 DiverseCity Fellow and a proud ELNer.
We asked Helen to share her leadership journey & insights below!
Q: What motivated you to join the ELN and/or apply to the DiverseCity Fellows Program?
I joined the DiverseCity Fellows and ELN because I wanted to supplement the social and economic development work I was doing in organizations with deeper and more practical knowledge of the competing interests at play. I wanted to meet other leaders and be in a dynamic space with like-minded, vision-driven people who value the process of building collaborative solutions to big challenges.
Q: Why is diverse leadership important?
Different life experiences and perspectives are necessary for the articulation and evaluation of challenges and solutions. We can’t see or feel what we have never lived. Diversity in leadership facilitates new ways of identifying challenges and potentially pre-emptive ways of dealing with them. It is also important that taxpayers, individuals, shareholders, communities see themselves reflected in the public realm. Imagery and symbols matter.
Q: What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess and why?
I think a good leader is a good listener and observer. They must consistently absorb new information and perspectives and make judgments based on a deep awareness of the opportunities, tensions and limitations of any particular course of action. Coupled with decisiveness, a leader who listens and observes is very effective.
Q: What advice would you give rising leaders who want to get more engaged in their city or community?
I think “know thyself” is an important mantra to remember. Why do you want to get more engaged? What do you want to learn? Do you want to share specific skills? Meet new people? Clarity is power. Try to be clear about what you want and what you are doing because that will help you see and forge the road ahead. Keep open and flexible to new ways of being or becoming a leader.
Q: Tell us about one of your favourite places in the GTHA to visit/go – why is it your favourite?
Since I love travel and culture I think I have to say Harbourfront Centre in the summer. If you don’t have time to go to Chinatown, Greektown, Little Portugal, Little India, etc. you can go to Harbourfront to see, feel and taste culture in Toronto.
Q: If you could have dinner with anyone, living or deceased, who would you choose and why?
I would definitely start with my grandfathers who I’ve never met before. They were both very ambitious and lived through very difficult times of great political and social change in Eritrea. It would be inspiring to hear more their values, sense of purpose and hope for the future.