At this year’s conference, Navigation 2023, the second cohort of CIP’s Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) united in person to learn leadership skills and network with their peers. These long-lasting relationships between the participants will provide support as they continue through their careers, taking on the challenges that planners and the profession will face in years to come.

The Emerging Leaders Program was created to provide opportunities to mid-career planning professionals to learn skills that will support their career development as they aspire to lead within their organizations. The first cohort of the ELP met virtually from 2021-2022, completing eight modules that focused on topics like accountability and ethics, internal and external conflict resolution, and emotional intelligence. Navigation 2023 was the first time the program was delivered in person.

The program began early this year with a virtual session led by Natalie Persaud RPP, MCIP on “Emotional Intelligence and Self-Care”. This session was followed up with two others. “What is A Leader”, led by Eleanor Mohammed RPP, MCIP, was a facilitated conversation on leadership versus management and taking risks. Kristy Kilbourne RPP, MCIP, finished the virtual component with a conversation on networking and building relationships to prepare ELP participants for the conference, the connections they will make, and—most importantly—to place emphasis on the value of having a support system.

At the conference, participants attended a variety of sessions that contributed to their understanding of leadership. These included the student conference keynote address provided by Andy Fillmore MP, where he proclaimed “What a time to be a planner” pointing to all of the investments being made in Canada to improve local communities. The conference session “Community of Practice” focused on the importance of having a support system and was led by Elizabeth Farrugia, a past ELP participant, and Leela Viswanathan RPP, MCIP, a past facilitator of the ELP.

Sessions like “I’m not a junior, not yet a senior” and “Meet and Mentor” provided opportunities to network with others in a similar career stage and to gain insight from those who have a wealth of experience. A session on ethics provided the stage to ask important questions including how we hold ourselves accountable and the challenges of applying ethical standards to everyone practicing planning.

The final session was “What do you want to be known for”, facilitated by Latosia Campbell-Walters RPP, MCIP, who focused on legacy and provided a call to action to all those present to step up and lead as we are faced with a plethora of challenges that require our attention. It was inspiring and a great way to end what was a busy week of listening and learning.

The ELP is still in its infancy, but its participants to date have demonstrated high satisfaction with the program. It will continue to be provided at CIP’s national conference with virtual sessions ahead of it. Interest in the program has grown as many recognize the difficulty in obtaining training in the subject matter discussed. There is a need for leaders – not simply those who are technically skilled, but those with a high degree of emotional intelligence, who can influence and develop others to be successful at what they do. The ELP’s goal is to develop these skills and qualities and inspire planners to embrace leadership no matter what position they are in.

CIP thanks this year’s participants and looks forward to future expressions of interest in the program.