ASI is pleased to introduce its new CEO, Tamara Connell.
Below, Tamara shares insights about the field of transition leadership, the external trends she sees impacting sustainability, and a few highlights of stepping into the CEO role. She also shares how organizations can partner with ASI to bring sustainability transition leadership into more spaces.
Q: What do you find most compelling about the field of transition leadership?
I’ve dedicated the past two decades of my career to working in adult education within the sustainability and social innovation fields, and I can’t imagine doing anything else! I’m immensely motivated by creating spaces for individuals to step into their most powerful selves.
In most cases, we’re working with people who understand the unsustainable path that society is on and who feel compelled to find solutions. My observations have been that often folks can make true breakthroughs in their personal and vocational journeys when provided the opportunity to develop their self-awareness, confidence, network, and capacities. When these elements are present, I’ve seen incredible transformational shifts in individuals as leaders ready to take on the sustainability challenges at hand.
And when I refer to capacities, I think of two things: one is the knowledge and skillful use of “things” like frameworks, models, technical details, rules, or systems interactions.
The other is the use of processes and ways of being, like hosting collaborative dialogue, navigating complexity, sense-making, empathy, and more. Both types of capacities are critical to help lead through the immensely complex challenges that we’re faced with.
I was drawn to ASI’s model because of the emphasis placed on the social aspects of a sustainability transition – ensuring that our transition to a low-carbon economy includes and lifts all perspectives, particularly those who have been systemically excluded and marginalized. The belief that leadership can come from absolutely anyone, no matter what role they may occupy, resonates strongly with me.
Ultimately, through our work, my hope is that we can help create spaces for people to step into their own leadership, to make change and effect positive ripples in all realms of their lives. Then hopefully we can build a future that nourishes us all within the bounds of nature.
Q: What are some of the external trends you see making an impact right now?
From my perspective as a white, urban settler of Canada, there has been a significant increase in the public conversation on calls to action surrounding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, as well as Indigenous Reconciliation. Colonial ways of working are being challenged, upended, and replaced.
The pandemic exposed how precarious our social support structures and systems are, showcasing how critical it is to have locally resilient and inclusive communities of care. It also forced many people to critically re-examine their lives and how they wanted to invest their limited time and energy.
We’re finally witnessing a broader acceptance of the climate crisis as fact. The multiple recent extreme weather events across the country seems to have shifted mindsets and motivated new audiences to accept that climate change is happening now and requires immediate action.
Also there are increasingly high expectations regarding the social and legal license to operate. There’s a growing adoption of tools for disclosure of commitments, progress, impacts, and more. Associations, certification bodies, and investment mechanisms are being called to change. The bar has been raised in terms of what organizations say about their efforts, and there’s more attention to the authenticity behind the claims.
These are but a sample of what’s happening. My hope is that the confluence of the current trends allows us to not only re-imagine the future we want to build together on our planet, but to actualize it in ways that we’re immensely proud of.
Q: What excites you about stepping into the role of CEO with ASI?
There has never been a better or more necessary time for the work that ASI does! There is an enhanced appetite to actively contribute to the transition to a low-carbon, socially-just economy. We’re seeing this from all realms of society.
ASI has done excellent, impactful work with different groups, organizations, and individuals. Our foundations have been established and I’m happy to feel the momentum. I’m excited for us to make available additional offerings to scale participant access to the concepts and practices surrounding transition leadership.
I’d also like to credit this talented team – smart, capable, forward-thinking, and passionate. I’m excited to be a part of it and to see what we can all do together!
Q: What types of partnerships are you looking to cultivate at ASI?
We’re really excited about our new partnership with the Resilience by Design Lab team, and we look forward to additional exciting announcements.
We’ll also be looking for opportunities to bring sustainability transition leadership capacity building into increasingly more spaces. So, we’re keen to explore additional ways to partner with like-minded organizations.
We know that many people struggle with the organizational change management and capacity building that is required to navigate the complexities now facing almost every sector. The best performing, highest impact organizations will have transition leadership mindsets, capabilities, and practices embedded into and aligned across all roles and major business practices.
ASI can help navigate this change. Please feel free to reach out to me to discuss your needs and ideas.
It’s an exciting time to step into a role like this, and we’re pleased to welcome Tamara to the organization.
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