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A Message from our CEO

Diane Wiles

When I look back on the past year, there are a few words that come to mind: challenge, adaptability, trepidation, and change. These are things that we have all experienced over the last 10 months, but I’m proud to say that ingenuity, collaboration, consideration, flexibility and passion are the real take-aways for Leadership Waterloo Region in 2020. As you read on, you will see that LWR has made some intentional and impactful changes and “pivots” this year. We began our last fiscal year in a new home at Quarry in St. Jacobs, we developed and rolled out a revamped curriculum and launched a new series of programming focused on supporting local non-profits.  


When COVID-19 hit in March, we were part-way through our Core Program class year and well on our way to hosting our Annual Leadership Breakfast. When staff left our office that Friday afternoon, we never imagined what would roll out over the coming months, or how we would come together to support our class and community in new and exciting ways. 

We worried about how moving to a virtual learning environment would impact our current class and whether or not the class would feel supported and engaged enough to finish their leadership journeys. But we had nothing to fear. The class stepped up, and took on the challenge of long learning days via Zoom with gusto and trusted us to help maintain the strong bonds they’d developed so far. Our facilitators adjusted their sessions and teaching styles to suit online learning, and we developed a set of virtual convening principles to help staff, volunteers, and session participants know that through all the upheaval, that we were staying true to our values. 

With the support of our Board of Directors we charged forward, marking a new path for LWR. It is a path we are excited to continue down, with our alumni, community partners, volunteers, sponsors and donors as we look for new and exciting ways to empower and encourage leaders to unleash positive change in our community. 

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We wouldn’t be where we are today without the help and support of our volunteers, donors and community partners.  Great leaders are possible because of collaboration, participation, and trust.  I’d like to take a moment to highlight a few from the past year that made our work possible:


The leadership and staff team at Quarry Integrated Communications welcomed us with open arms and we are ever grateful for their support. Thank you, Alan, Ken and team! 

To BMW Grand River. Our title sponsor for the Annual Leadership Gala once again this year. We delight in the opportunity to work with you and your team each year, and look forward to continuing our friendship in 2021. 

Both Activa and Freure Homes stepped forward as sponsors of the Core Program’s Affordable Housing Lab (more on that later). Thank you, Tony and David for believing in us, our work and for your passion for housing in Waterloo Region! 

To Dr. Sean Geobey from the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience, thank you for your time, expertise, patience and guidance through our pilot year of this innovative work! You inspire us to think differently and trust the process. 

And last but certainly not least, to the team at Wellbeing Waterloo Region and the Region of Waterloo. Lorie, Cheryl, Cynthia and team, you helped us get the word out about our work, and supported our Core Program in ways that are immeasurable. Thank you!

As we head into 2021, working with our new class of diverse, eager leaders, we can't help but have feelings of hope. Their passion drives us forward, hungry to continue to give back to our alumni, friends, donors, partners and community we call home. 

We want to hear from you!

Have an idea? Want to connect on leadership or affordable housing? 

Looking to get involved? We are excited to talk to you.

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