Local community leaders in the making

Leadership Windsor/Essex Class of 2017

Leadership Windsor/Essex

Leadership Windsor/Essex (LWE), created in 2001, is a program that United Way is proud to say has lasting impact. Recognizing a need, United Way developed one of only 22 Leadership programs across Canada, offering a unique learning experience for emerging civic leaders.

Participants come to the program from all sectors – labour, government, academic, business, and not-for-profit – to work together and ultimately strengthen Windsor and Essex County. The 10-month curriculum builds skills, knowledge, and relationships with the goal of creating transformational civic leaders. Up to 30 participants go through the program annually.

LWE is funded by a financial contribution from the participants and through sponsorship. Union Gas has been a supporter of LWE for many years.

“At Union Gas we feel strongly about working with our neighbours to make great communities even better,” said Neil Quenneville, construction and growth manager at Union Gas. “We’re proud to continue our support of Leadership Windsor/Essex in their efforts to develop the leadership capabilities of citizens who care about this community.”

As a part of the LWE experience, participants select a Community Action Project (CAP) to address a local issue. Each participant in the program spends 40 hours working with one of more than 50 local public and not-for-profit community organizations. These projects are designed to provide tangible outcomes like reducing isolation among neighbours.

Amandeep Waraich, Manager of Clinical Engineering at Windsor Regional Hospital was new to a leadership role and came to LWE by way of a recommendation from a colleague. Waraich says it’s easy to fall into the trap of different community sectors working in silos, and LWE fosters new perspectives on creating real change in a community.

“You may have a preconceived notion of what needs to be done [to solve a problem] and who you are trying to help but you have to sit down and spend time with the people who need it most to truly understand their lives and perhaps their culture,” says Waraich.


Waraich was one of four CAP team members who partnered with Windsor Residence, a program within an apartment building that helps people living in low income to maintain stable housing. Titled Divided No More, the project nurtured relationships between residents from different social and economic groups and brought a sense of neighbourhood belonging to the residents by hosting a number of events.

“People opened their homes to us and treated us like family,” she says. “We wanted to help encourage the residents to take control and create a sustainable program even after we had left. They were the real decision makers.”

Waraich, who hails from Vancouver, says LWE helped her gain valuable insights about Windsor and its rich history.

“Don’t ignore it. We have a great little gem. Let’s help it grow, help it become more visible.”

LWE graduates are the community’s best champions, becoming advocates for a better Windsor-Essex. Graduates receive a certificate of completion issued from the University of Windsor Centre for Executive and Professional Education (CEPE), allowing them to return to their workplaces as informed decision makers, and increasing their capacity to anticipate and respond to the changing needs of the community.

“Leadership Windsor/Essex aims to nurture networks of people with a sense of community trusteeship, who work together to build a thriving community,” says Lorraine Goddard, CEO of United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County.

LWE Alumni also remain part of a diverse resource network comprised of people like Tania Sorge, Co-Founder of Transition to Betterness and Margaret Corio, Regional Vice President at RBC Royal Bank.

Alumni have the opportunity to participate in Community Outreach Projects, professional development training, and an Evening of Excellence with speakers like Justin Trudeau and Craig Kielburger.

Leadership Windsor/Essex has produced 350 leaders, whose visions have helped to create the vibrant and progressive community we live in today. The community depends on talented and committed individuals to advocate for a better tomorrow.

This year, LWE will host a 40 Leaders Under 40 Awards event to highlight the work of the many emerging civic-minded leaders in our region. To learn more about how you can become involved in the program as a participant or a sponsor visit www.leadershipwindsor-essex.org.


LWE Learning Days (left), Amandeep's CAP Team with Windsor Residence participants (right)


Posted January 29, 2018





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United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County
300 Giles Boulevard East, Unit A1
Windsor, Ontario N9A 4C4
t: 519-258-0000 | f: 519-258-2346
Charitable Registration #: 10816 0334 RR0001