Lead by example
Community leaders are the backbone of the province. They’re on the frontlines of business, tourism, culture and social wellbeing, especially in small towns across Nova Scotia.
Brenda Francis is one of those leaders. The Digby native is the Regional Educator for the Black Educators Association in the Southwest Region. She helps enable people to access education and be successful in their learning.
And in her spare time, she’s vice-president of the Black Cultural Society of Nova Scotia, a board member with the Jordantown-Acaciaville-Conway Betterment Association, and a member of the Digby Education Committee, to name a few.
My passion for this work goes back to my mentors and the people I respected in my community while growing up. I want to do for the next generation what they did for me.
Inspired by those around her
“Growing up, there weren’t many services available to Black communities, but we had great leaders and mentors in the community. Individuals who were conscientious and who wanted to provide support and challenge injustice,” says Brenda. “For me, giving back is an opportunity to thank my elders and parents.”
Coming from a long line of trailblazers – her grandmother was one of the first black teachers in the province in the 1930s and her mother was a founding member of the Acaciaville Conway Branch of the Women’s Institute of Canada – Brenda is grateful to be continuing the legacy of those who came before her.
“My passion for this work goes back to my mentors and the people I respected in the community when I was growing up. I want to do for the next generation what they did for me.”
Honing her skills
So, when Brenda heard about the new NSCC Advanced Diploma in Nonprofit Leadership – which can be taken completely online – she saw an opportunity to re-energize her efforts and commitment to her work and her community.
“It was exactly what I’d been waiting for,” she explains. “It was in line with everything I do and would enable me to better serve my organizations and in my work with community partners.”
With her busy work and volunteer schedule, going back to school wasn’t an option for Brenda. An online option meant she would be able to manage her education around her activities.
“At the outset, I was apprehensive but with the technology and the way the program is structured with discussion boards, schedule and wonderful instructors, it was easy to feel connected and to navigate through the program – it was wonderful.”
Setting an example
Now, Brenda is putting her newfound skills to work by employing new strategies to be a better leader, volunteer and teacher in her community.
“My approach is more enlightened and attuned to the needs of individuals and the community. I work with young people and young parents and thanks to the program,” she says.” I can help them develop skills and grow as leaders, so that one day when I’m not there, these great people have taken the torch.”
Brenda's grandmother was one of the first black teachers in Nova Scotia in the 1930s and her mother was a founding member of the Acaciaville Conway Branch of the Women’s Institute of Canada