When community calls for support, do you heed the call? Stephen Kylie does. Lawyer and community advocate Stephen Kylie was awarded the 2016 Business Citizen of the Year at the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Excellence Awards last year. Yesterday my day started with an opportunity to hear Kylie share his observation and learnings gathered from 37 years of community involvement at a Chamber networking event.
“Everyone has something to contribute, no matter who they are,” this highly regarded business leader said when receiving his award in June, “I just like having a positive impact on the community, if I can.”
Kylie can and he does. He completed a Bachelor of Science degree at Trent University in 1975 with a joint major in mathematics and economics and graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Ottawa in 1978. He was called to the Bar by the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1980 and has practised law in Peterborough since his call to the bar.
Some of the initiatives Kylie is presently involved in include serving as Chair, Peterborough Poverty Reduction Network and as a founding member of The Mount Community Centre; serving as Chair, Trent University Board of Directors; serving as a member of the Finance Committee of St. Alphonsus Church; serving as President, The roman Catholic Peterborough Diocese Good Shepard Foundation Inc., serving as Vice-President of the Peterborough Liberal Association; and Co-Chairing the Rotary Club Victoria Day Fireworks and Family Night. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Peterborough.
Through his leadership and long history of community involvement, Kylie has had a positive impact on the healthcare sector, recreation, energy, social services and the environment.
“When the community calls, I respond,” he said reflectively at yesterday’s gathering. “There is a growing gap between community needs versus the expectation of the community. As citizens we must find ways to collaborate, contribute to the community and have a collective impact.”
“Having all members of a community come together to collaborate on innovative solutions to address shared challenges invites more government funding into the community. We’re starting to see more and more collaboration between non-profits, charitable organizations, educational institutions, and private enterprise to improve the quality of life in our community. If our community improves, then our economy will also improve,” Kylie said.
Volunteerism, gifts in kind, and philanthropy were just a few of the ways he suggested people support their community. Benefits of involvement include the personal satisfaction that comes with knowing that you are making a difference, acquiring news skills and enhancing existing ones, and expanding social and business networks. Kylie has received over 12 awards and other recognition for his community service. He is quick to acknowledge the support of his wife and family in helping him balance running a successful legal firm while contribution to the community they call home.
I left the event feeling inspired and energized by Kylie’s example. The experience was a great way to start my day. So when I watched U.S. President Barack Obama’s farewell address last night, it occurred to me that both individuals shared many of the same values and principles. Obama encouraged Americans to take an active role in civil service for the betterment of their country.
“It falls on us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all of our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen,” he said.
“Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process disappoints you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than note, your faith in America — and in Americans — will be confirmed. Mine sure has.”
Perhaps the most moving moment of Obama’s remarks was a personal expression of gratitude and thanks for the support of his family and his team, and in particular, his wife and “best friend” Michelle. “You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. You’ve made me proud.”
While the scope of Kylie’s and Obama’s leadership is clearly different, they both understand the importance of family values and recognize the value of innovative collaboration to build strong communities. They are natural leaders, living by example. The words of Margaret Mead ring true for both men: “Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
So when community calls, how will you heed the call?
About the Author: Jennifer Garland is the Owner/Program Director of The Mane Intent, offering Health and Wellness Workshops and Individual and Team Effectiveness Coaching. Jennifer’s intent is to bring horses and humans together to explore new possibilities, getting you out of your comfort zone and giving clarity of voice to your leader within. She has over 25 years of leadership experience in communications, cause-related marketing and change management. As a strategist, facilitator and effectiveness coach, Jennifer has provided counsel and support to senior leaders from all walks of life to build productive relationships, facilitate learning and to embrace change. She is a ‘socialpreneur’ who values the art of living life fully with intent.