Passionate, Connected, Committed Leaders Transforming Communities

A reflection from Carolyn Sammon and Simon Crase – AVCLP 15/16 Grads

I recently attending the Alpine Valleys Community Leadership Program Graduation (AVCLP) held in Wangaratta. The night was well attended and we had the pleasure of listening to Craig Lapsley – Victoria’s Emergency Management Commissioner. But the night belonged to this year’s graduates and in particular to Simon and Carolyn who provided wonderful insights into their year through the graduating speeches.

The following excerpts from Simon’s and Carolyn’s speeches are contained below with their permission and I would like to take this time to thank them both for allowing me to share their reflections and I wish you every success for the future. Kat Baddeley – CEO VRCLP

Simon Crase

On July 17-18 last year, twenty five people gathered at Lake Hume and they haven’t looked back. For me the most remarkable aspect of that two days was the immediate sense of togetherness and camaraderie among the group. Leadership teams were created painlessly and the discussions that took place were interesting and dynamic and set a perfect tone that stayed throughout the course. Bonds formed, strong friendships were established and flourished and we have remained united.
It has been a privilege for me and I am filled with the deepest gratitude for the AVCLP experience in many ways. In fact, it is much greater than a privilege – it has been a true blessing. 
Along the way we saw people with big hearts, and kind generous natures. People who loved to laugh and cried when they didn’t want to cry. People being supportive, providing encouragement and giving love. People wanting to better themselves, people hungry to learn, and people searching for what was next in their lives to help their communities. In many cases, leadership skills were lying dormant and it was simply a case of them being awakened in the supportive environment.
But the biggest change was the growing confidence. Confidence to speak up, confidence to get involved and confidence to trust that inner voice so many of us disregard because we believe it might be wrong, or we might be criticised or ridiculed.
There is no doubt the 2015-16 graduates will go on to do outstanding things in their communities, be it Corryong, Katunga, Glenrowan West, Rutherglen, Wangaratta, Everton, Jamieson, Bright, Wodonga, or wherever it is they settle.
And they will do these outstanding things in large part because they have been empowered to make their communities stronger and even better places to live.  

Carolyn Sammon

10 months ago, I gathered somewhat apprehensively with an assortment of friendly-enough strangers. It’s safe to say now that I wasn’t the only one wondering what I was in for, or if I belonged in this esteemed program. If I knew then, what I know now, I would not have believed my luck.

We were here to learn to be leaders, though it was a pretty big promise. I was suffering some fairly serious self-doubt, but that fact was, I was ready to embrace change, and with my boys all at school, I was looking for my ‘next big thing’. Having never lived up to my own expectations, I was hoping to widen my horizons and to be challenged. I braced myself to be thrust outside my comfort zone.

Our fortnightly days together were spent in various locations around our beautiful region, listening to outstanding leaders and visionaries, while we frantically formulated appropriately outstanding questions. We commenced learning an array of skills from the best around. In an environment of trust and respect, we took risks, and we reflected on new ideas. We learned that if we don’t give up, we can’t fail.

Little did we know that the people from whom we would learn the most were standing next to us.

We know now that a small group of passionate, connected and committed people can transform communities. In fact that is exactly what we’re now prepared to do.


L-R Carolyn Sammon, Kat Baddeley, Simon Crase – AVCLP Graduation, Wangaratta

Kat Baddeley

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