In September 1989, I was shocked when I, a newcomer, was nominated to be president of my Grade 10 class. The school year was only 2-weeks old and most of my classmates were strangers to me.
Four names were written on the chalkboard and we were asked to leave the room. When we were called back into the classroom, my name was written on the chalkboard as president.
I was puzzled. I asked:
And I did the best I could do.
In Grade 12, I played basketball at a catholic high school…
I was a good basketball player, but I was not the best player on the team. Our point guard was. She was fierce, risky, and had a competitive spirit.
Imagine my surprise when my coach picked me to be captain and selected me as the team MVP at the end of the season.
I picked you because you’re a leader,” he said.
In university, I was elected president of the Latin American & Caribbean Studies Student group…
Yet another situation where I simply sat back, observed the conversation and someone said “I nominate Leesa.” I didn’t decline. And when I re-entered the room, I was elected president.
Fast forward to 2000 and I saw a need in the community for an association for Blacks working in technology…
I didn’t know where to start. So, I went to a networking event for Black professionals. I approached everyone and asked one simple question “Do you work in IT?” I collected 44 business cards and invited them to join me at a planning session to discuss whether an association for Blacks in tech is necessary.
Four months later as its Founding President, the board and I launched the association, signing up 100 members in the first month alone.
After attending the very first Podcamp in Boston, I wondered if we could do the same in Toronto…
I asked Jay Moonah, the other co-founder:
Could we start something like this in Toronto?
He said “Of course!”
And then 5 months later in February 2007, Podcamp Toronto launched, attracting 300 attendees, $5000 in sponsorship, and so much excitement and media attention. Podcamp Toronto will celebrate 10-years in 2017 and it’s one of the few Podcamp’s still running.
As I look back, there’s one thing that God has gifted me that I can do really well – organize people around a single goal. That is, indeed, the ability God breathed into me.
- I know that this is God because I don’t have deep pockets.
- I don’t know a lot of movers and shakers.
- I walk into rooms a complete stranger and I don’t have a long list of titles or credentials after my name.
Sometimes, I sit back in a room and observe. I watch, I look, I listen. And to many, I’m a nobody.
I’ve had very little and was able to produce very much…
I’ve faced opposition, ridicule, jealousy – yet I still keep plugging forward. It’s not easy to lead a movement, but when you have the right people supporting you – believing you – everything is possible. For if the plans are God’s, no man can stop it.
Stop asking “Why me?” It’s a silly question. God has plans for you and gave you these experiences for a reason. Yield to His wisdom, acknowledge that He wants it to be you and instead, ask “What now?”