Guiding Question: How can our leadership make a positive impact in our community?
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This blog post is about an interview I conducted with a community leader, Harriette Chang. Harriette is the Director and Coordinator of Real Acts of Caring (RAC). She found an interest for leadership as early as grade eight, and she has been seeking out leadership opportunities ever since then. She has a Masters in Educational Leadership and now works for SD43 as a counsellor.
Click here for the Real Acts of Caring website. Click here for an article about some of Harriette’s accomplishments with RAC, and here for some examples of RAC initiatives with SD43.
Exceptional personal qualities as a leader:
Harriette has so many exceptional qualities that allow her to effectively run the Real Acts of Caring organization. During our interview, she highlighted a few of these qualities as being extra important. Mental flexibility and open-mindedness were two that she found particularly significant. As Harriette works with people of all ages, she must find ways to connect with each person by encouraging new ways of thinking. Collaboration, problem solving, and critical and creative thinking are super important for completing complex tasks within the organization, such as preparing for presentations and fundraising events. Further, Harriette explained that delegating is another skill that she uses often. At any given time, there may be many important RAC events occurring simultaneously, so delegation can improve efficiency. Interpersonal skills and listening skills allow Harriette to form connections with others in the Real Acts of Caring steering committee, which creates a welcoming environment. Planning and multi-tasking are also really important. As previously mentioned, RAC often has many different events occurring in a short period of time. Harriette has to plan and facilitate all these activities to ensure their success. In fact, during our interview, Harriette mentioned one time when Real Acts of Caring had three different city council presentation occurring on the same night. Harriette had to prepare for all three presentation and ensure that the presenters were ready. This required immense planning and multi-tasking skills. Lastly, Harriette inspires other to take initiative. Working as a counsellor in schools, she gets to talk to many different students and share RAC with many people. She has had to develop skills to inspire others to take initiative and spread Real Acts of Caring through the community.
Accomplishments in the community:
Over the years, Harriette has accomplished so much in the community. In 2006, she began Real Acts of Caring in an SD43 school. Since then, Real Acts of Caring has been on newspapers and news channels on TV multiple times, including in 2007 when RAC won Newsmaker of the year for the Tri-Cities. Harriette has been able to spread RAC around BC and even other parts of Canada, too. Every year, Real Acts of Caring members present at city councils in BC. Real Acts of Caring was even recognized in the senate in Ottawa with Harriette’s guidance. Now, Harriette is writing a Real Acts of Caring book, and educator’s manual, with the goal of spreading awareness for RAC.
Real Acts of Caring plans several initiatives to spread kindness in the community. As a part of the RAC steering committee myself, I have participated in several events like handing out cards and kind notes to strangers and paying for people’s drinks at the local café. Now, RAC is raising awareness for climate change and distributing fabric bags with the goals of eliminating single use plastics. Harriette, as the director of RAC, supervises and plans each of these community events.
Why do I believe Harriette is an effective community leader:
I have been a part of the RAC steering committee for four years, and as such, I have been able to watch RAC accomplish so much with Harriette’s leadership. She truly inspires others to take initiative. People as young as grade four and five get the opportunity to present for city councils for RAC, and many people would likely never get this opportunity without Harriette’s help. Personally, I was fairly nervous before I presented for the first time in front of a city council, but Harriette was so calm and helpful. As previously mentioned, RAC often has several events occurring at once, which takes immense organization to plan. I think that one of the most significant reasons for Harriette’s incredible leadership is her compassion. It is extremely clear that she genuinely cares about each person in RAC and everyone around her. She is always encouraging, and this creates an incredibly welcoming and fun environment. Finally, Harriette mentors others for different tasks within the RAC steering committee, so we all get to contribute and learn. All of these qualities make Harriette a phenomenal community leader.
How does Harriette inspire me and others to make a difference in our community:
Harriette’s passion for RAC and compassion for everyone around her make her an inspiration to many, many people. I have always admired Harriette for her determination to spread kindness in her community, which just shows her passion for Real Acts of Caring. As well, she always gives the credit for RAC events and initiatives to the students, and this encourages us to participate in future activities even more. It is abundantly evident that Harriette cares about each person she works with, which makes Real Acts of Caring a really fun place to be. She continues to provide everyone with a multitude of opportunities to take initiative, inspiring us to make a difference. When a learning opportunity arises, she always teaches us as much as she possibly can. It is Harriette’s genuine compassion and caring that inspire each person to follow her lead and make a difference in their community.
I learned so much from my interview with Harriette, but the following are a few of the main pieces of wisdom I will be taking away. Firstly, leadership is a journey. Harriette continues to seek opportunities to take initiative and encourages others to do the same. She says that embracing new experiences is the best way to improve your leadership. Trying new activities like traveling and volunteering will ultimately teach you so much and expand your wisdom. She encourages meeting new people whenever possible to build an open-minded mindset; meeting new people throughout your journey is the key to growing. And finally, education does not just occur in a classroom. Travelling, meeting new people, volunteering, taking on other opportunities, and challenging yourself to think outside the box are all equally as valuable as classroom learning.
“We’re all lifelong learners, and we all learn in different ways and at different rates. But I think that the more opportunities we allow ourselves, the better we can build upon them.”
– Harriette Chang
Thank you so much to Harriette Chang for volunteering her time for our interview! I genuinely learned so much from our conversation, so thank you! And thanks to everyone reading this post. If you have any comments or questions, please comment them below.