28 November 2016 By Natasha Toohey (FCLP 2016), Western Health

Valedictorian Speech: Folio Community Leadership Program 2016 Natasha Toohey (FCLP 2016)                                      

"The Folio Community Leadership Program (FCLP) is described as a ‘deep dive’ experience into all aspects of self-awareness and community leadership. To give you some insight as to what it is like to be a FCLP participant, I have been reflecting on what was the key defining moment in the program for me.

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12 December 2013 By Camilla Macdonell

Folio brought 16 like-minded people together from across corporate, government and non-government contexts and over the last 6 months we have been on an amazing journey.

A journey of reflection as we explored our own stories and what has influenced and shaped us over time. 

A journey about understanding what makes an effective Community leader and the power of collaboration over authority in seeking to make a positive difference to the world we live in. 

A journey about better listening to and understanding our communities and the wicked social problems at play - like how to tackle climate change, embrace asylum seekers and refugees and celebrate Victoria's unique aboriginal culture and heritage. And about how to do good, and not just feel good about doing something.

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30 November -0001

“My expectations of the Folio Community Leadership Program now seem to be trivial based on the experience so far. The two day opening retreat has been the absolute highlight of my life to date,” says Peter Gluskie, Program Director at Telstra.

Peter had applied previously for the Williamson Community Leadership Program at Leadership Victoria but was unsuccessful due to the seniority of his roles. Folio was perfect for him as he was looking for a program to broaden his knowledge of community groups and develop his leadership skills.

“From the first day at the retreat I knew I was on the right program. Having been in senior roles for many years and been involved with community organisations I was always a little different to my peers. At the retreat I was in a room full of 16 other people who are just like me. It was the first time I had experienced this,” adds Peter.

Throughout the retreat there were a number of guest speakers who the participants were able to probe, prod and challenge. The speakers challenged the thinking within the group and for each of the participants there were moments that really struck a chord with them.

“The day after the retreat I did something that I have not done before. I started to write down the key points from the speakers and activities and have also contacted some of the speakers to get more information. I am obviously ready for something like this.”

One powerful outcome for Peter has been the results of the Action Logics Leadership Development Framework. This has provided an awareness of what informs his thinking and action on an everyday basis. This extra piece of information means that he can now use this to enhance his working environment and so make the most of the opportunities provided.

Folio is a six month program commencing with a two day retreat and then one day per month. Participants graduate at the completion of the program and join LV’s network of Alumni. During the program teams get together and tackle a community issue relevant to them. This year’s Folio group has chosen three projects and will be working through implementing them as they complete the program.

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30 November -0001

Following discussions with a couple of Williamson fellows, I decided to explore the Leadership Victoria website for more information and, as I searched, it became evident that with my current workload, the Williamson Community Leadership Program required too much time. However, the new Folio Community Leadership program suited me perfectly.

There were a number of personal factors which contributed to my decision to seek personal extension:

I have been the Chief Executive of AUSRAPID for over 20 years and need to stay relevant; I am a widow of three teenage children and need a new direction; The desire to drive fundraising for Motor Neurone Disease; To extend my leadership and negotiation skills following my International appointment; To gain extra ideas to foster young women’s confidence in rural Victoria; To keep improving as a person.

These personal factors, combined with my passion for social justice, inspired me to pursue an application for a place with the 2013 Folio Community Leadership program.

As the interview unfolded with the Leadership Victoria personnel, I was sure, if successful, the program would begin a new chapter in my life.  

Having worked in the National sporting sector for 21 years advocating for the rights of people with a disability, I wasn’t sure how much extra there was to know about Community Leadership, but I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of the reading in preparation for the opening retreat. I even enjoyed pondering what type of leader I thought I was compared to how I might be perceived.

My new Buddy and I struggled to find a mutual time to meet face to face, so our getting to know each other was via a telephone conversation. He was incredibly interesting, and it struck me that our backgrounds and interests were very different, but, I could tell we shared a passion for social justice.

The first day was inspirational; meeting new people, listening to their stories and generally settling in. The speakers were thought provoking, in particular, Chris Kotur and Phil Cleary. The topics encouraged me to delve deeper into analysing my views and listening to the questions of others was an experience in itself.

Since the retreat I have found myself constantly analysing every decision I make; could I be leading more effectively or achieving the same goal in a different way? How do others view me, do I talk too much, am I in tune with other’s feelings and needs?

The first month’s session also posed another challenge in that our Syndicate was the first group to present a white paper on social cohesion and also work together to coordinate the day. Working together with these professionals was thoroughly enjoyable and it was so interesting observing and noting the machinations of how five leaders work together for a common purpose.

The July Folio day at Visy Cares Hub in Sunshine was another thought provoking day with many highlights and quality speakers. I particularly enjoyed Bryan Lipmann and I was honoured to hear four of my colleagues deliver their True North activity.

I am already looking forward to the next exercise, which will be meeting with my clan to explore and develop our experiment.

The most exciting and enjoyable part of this Folio program is being in the presence of people who can see the definite need of others in the Community and then share a passion to make a positive contribution.

Robyn Smith, Chief Executive AUSRAPID

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