This month we introduce you to Imanzi Kayitare, current ELN Executive Committee Member, active community builder, and Senior Advisor at Employment and Social Development Canada. Below Imanzi shares his thoughts on leadership and why he got engaged with the ELN.
Q: What motivated you to join the ELN and/or apply to the DiverseCity Fellows Program?
I joined ELN because I was intrigued on the vision and mission of the network to provide a platform for engaging emerging leaders in the GTHA to be equipped and connected. I was looking to get involved in a city building community that had a clear impact in improving our region by providing a space for people across various sectors to learn, build and network. I’m happy I’ve found ELN.
Q: How has your involvement shaped your leadership journey?
Through my involvement in the ELN I’ve learned the importance of collaboration, especially as it relates to relationship building. The experience that I’ve gained in the ELN through volunteering on incubated projects, studio planning and participating on roundtable discussions has prepared me well in my leadership journey by using innovative strategies on Boards, leading a national grassroots organization and developing a start-up from an idea.
Q: What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess and why?
One characteristic that I believe is important for every leader to possess is active listening. It’s easier said than done, but I strongly believe that engaging in genuine listening creates a safe space for leveraging dialogue and openness.
Q: What advice would you give someone who wants to get more engaged in their city or community?
Find a cause or city building issue that interests you and get involved by learning more about the issue and how you can contribute in a tangible way. Take small steps at the beginning; see who the players are in that space and how you can leverage your voice, skills and passion to the issue.
Q: What is a hobby/talent of yours that people may not know about you?
I wish I had a hidden talent to expose, but I’m avid collector of foreign currency coins if that counts as a hobby.
Q: If you could have dinner with anyone, living or deceased, who would you choose and why?
I would love to have dinner with Martin Luther King. He transcended community building to a whole another level; I would love to get his direct insights on how he persevered for equality and justice with no fear. That’s what I call real swagger!