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Leadership Waterloo Region has offered the Community Leadership Development (Core) Program for 22 years. Enbridge Gas (formerly Union Gas) has sponsored a staff member in the program for 19 of those years. Enbridge Gas encourages potential leaders in their company to join who have a range of different experiences, education, and tenure, to further their individual growth as well as better understand the on-going challenges within the community where they work and live. The relationship between the two organizations is one of the longest and strongest in the history of LWR.

Nicole Fernandes, Manager of Waterloo operations at Enbridge Gas, reflects on her experience in the Core Program. Nicole was looking to further develop her personal goals; community involvement, career growth and relationship building, and with her company’s support she decided that Leadership Waterloo Region offered the perfect program to accomplish her goals. 

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Nicole, (front row, 2nd from left) with her graduating Class of 2015.

Nicole graduated as a member of the Class of 2015 and remembers fondly her experience and how it impacted her career and personal life. Nicole resides in the Waterloo Region and has worked at Enbridge Gas for 11 years, her first community involvement touchpoint was through Enbridge Gas’ sweat equity program, Helping Hands in Action. The program offered her the opportunity to work with great local organizations like the Food Bank of Waterloo Region, Monica Place, and the Alzheimer’s Society where she grew a desire for more community experiences.

The partnership between LWR and Enbridge Gas has enhanced the quality of local leaders with an experience not offered internally within corporations, instead it provides exposure into various sectors (social profit, public, private) for a deeper appreciation of the difference that leaders can make at home, at work, and in our communities. 

“Community education helps build a skilled workforce for the future, and increases local economic development,” said Nicole Fernandes. “Our continued support of Leadership Waterloo Region will make a lasting contribution to the future of the region.

Recalling her first-hand experience with community organizations like the Food Bank and the Bridges Shelter in Cambridge, Nicole admits her blindness to the challenges that non-profits deal with every day. Nicole would drive by several non-profits on her everyday travels and was oblivious to the amount of planning, work, and support happening behind those doors, “you can easily forget things you learn, but you don’t ever forget the things you feel,” she adds.

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Murray Costello of Enbridge presenting a donation to LWR CEO, Diane Wiles.

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Nicole was in the early stages of her career at Enbridge Gas and valued most, the learnings around self-reflection, “I realized that understanding myself and my emotional intelligence allowed me to become a better leader, although it was sometimes an uncomfortable lesson I’ll always be grateful for my experience.” Because of her time in the program, Nicole now looks at things from more diverse perspectives.

“I never realized that I could become a community leader,” shares Nicole. “Thanks to Leadership Waterloo Region and Enbridge Gas’ support, I now not only believe that I can make a difference in my community, but that I should and will.” She goes on to say, “Enbridge Gas exists to help fuel the quality of life within communities where we work and live, and I’m proud to live these values by joining organizations that champion solutions for their community, like LWR.”

Enbridge Gas continues to invest in their employees through LWR, they see the value in supporting their leaders to grow into well-rounded community-minded, passionate citizens of Waterloo Region. We thank Enbridge Gas for their support and partnership over the last 20 years and look forward to building future leaders together for the next 20. 

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