Without the tools and knowledge to understand the needs of all self-identifying young women, Indigo Girls Group (IGG) would not be able to offer its unique programming to girls across Southern Ontario. For this reason we held our first IGG Professional Development (PD) Weekend in Kingston! The two days of presentations, workshops and activities, organized by our board of directors and branch leaders, covered a diverse array of topics and featured guest speakers from various professional backgrounds. It also made for a great opportunity for IGG leaders from across Ontario to meet in-person, share advice and ideas for collaboration!
This past year the IGG board of directors and branch leaders worked hard to improve different areas of the organization some of which included human resources, evaluation and diversity across our teams.
The training portion of the weekend covered the basics of new internal procedures being implemented throughout Indigo Girls. A significant portion of time was also devoted to brainstorming creative ways to attain our goal of reaching a wider audience of self-identifying women, and accordingly determine areas for development within the organization. For instance, Julia Falco, Director of Program Development and Diversity, lead a discussion on diversity and inclusion where the team worked to build a vision of what acceptance in the organization would look like specifically through the lenses of anti-homophobia, bi-phobia and transphobia, and anti-racism.
Included in the broad range of subjects covered were smart budgeting for translation into community projects and a “Workshop on Workshops,” conducted by Indigo Girls Kingston Branch Leader, Hayley Volden. These talks and activities gave IGG leaders a better understanding of how to improve programming and maximize impact with limited funds.
Keynote speaker Eric Zhang, a Queen’s U Master’s student shared his valuable experiences from working with young people with exceptionalities, specifically those with autism. He provided valuable insight for Girls Clubs Leaders into how we could better incorporate accessibility and greater sensitivity into our programming.
Our Toronto branch Finance Leader, Michelle Deherian, who is also completing a Masters in Social Work, presented a workshop on mental health and self-care. In true Indigo Girl fashion, she highlighted the importance for the team to stay aware of our own well-being while trying to fulfill our mandate, expressing that it is impossible to “draw from an empty cup.”
Though the focus of the weekend was on IGG training and organizational improvement, the Indigo Girls team also made time to meet up and connect with their colleagues since much of the collaboration across branches is through virtual meetings. Building relations between branches, sharing successes, failures and points for improvement has been instrumental to IGG’s growth from our first branch in Guelph to five branches across the province!