September 14 and 15, 2021 marks an important date in the history of the IAM. Following an announcement by International President, Robert Martinez about plans to launch the Leadership Excellence Assembly of Dedicated Sisters (LEADS,) a program aimed at increasing participation of women in the organization, representatives across the United States and Canada gathered at the Harbor.
This is the first time that the organization has focused efforts on developing a system of mentorship for women, with the Executive Council making a firm commitment to the program. “There are many things our organization is good at, but we always strive to be better and do better. Having a program like this will only make the union stronger and ensure we have a long line of activists to carry on our work.” explained David Chartrand, Canadian General Vice-President.
Representatives and activists from locals and districts from across our organization discussed obstacles women face in moving up through the organization, but also ideas to remove those obstacles and facilitate more participation. The group also shared practices that have helped sisters participate and assist their union, stressing the importance of supportive brothers who work alongside and ensure there is a place for all those who want to get involved.
Directing Business Representatives, Kim Valliere and Walter Gerlach, President and Directing General Chairperson Dave Flowers participated alongside Research Director Ivana Saula, and activists Nicole Tappenden, Zahra Jama, Rootisha Rampart, and Vivianne Simone. Canadian representatives gave insight into best practices from the Canadian Territory, and emphasized the importance of making sure the program matches unique needs of Districts and locals.
In the coming months, the Women’s Department from Headquarters along with the Harbor will be hard at work finalizing the program, which is set to launch in January, 2022.