Kaytland Smith is a councillor for the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s in Nova Scotia, Canada. She recently completed the inaugural offering of Coady Institute’s Advancing Women’s Leadership in Conflict Transformation, Peacebuilding and Community Development online certificate.
“My work as a Councillor has exposed me to varied scenarios and people,” Kaytland says. “Patterns began to emerge from these interactions, and I became aware that I needed to do some personal work. By recognizing my own need for growth, I hoped to be able to learn the tools appropriate to navigate my leadership role.”
Kaytland chose to apply to the online program because it offered foundational knowledge, practical tools, and the flexibility to continue learning while maintaining her employment obligations. She believed Coady was the right place to support her learning journey.
“Every day I’m contacted by constituents with issues or suggestions, or who are seeking help,” Kaytland explains. “There are times when these interactions can be heated or emotional, and by having the proper tools and understanding, I am able to better serve my residents.”
As a municipal councillor, Kaytland says encountering conflict is inevitable, and the program has helped her navigate peace and conflict with both constituents and within the council group.
“Learning how to interact with others on an equal working level and collaborating to develop a peaceful and communication-focused environment is phenomenal,” she adds.
The diversity of strong female leaders is one of the greatest aspects of this program. It has cemented my belief in the strength of the female spirit, and the earth-rattling effect we can have on society.
Coady offers a unique experience to learn within diverse cohorts of community leaders from countries around the globe.
“Living and growing up in Canada has allowed me a certain amount of privilege, and from that privilege can often come some naivety about the world,” Kaytland says. “By being exposed to stories and teachings from around the world, I was able to expand my mind and truly consider every scenario from a completely different perspective. I was inspired countless times by the determination and resilience of my classmates, and would often find myself in awe of the insight they brought to the program from their particular fields.”
As a board member for Government FOCUS (Female Objectives Cape Breton Unama’ki Strait), an organization focused on education and empowerment for local women to engage in politics at the municipal and band council levels, Katyland was particularly excited to learn alongside other women leaders.
“The diversity of strong female leaders is one of the greatest aspects of this program,” Kaytland says. “It has cemented my belief in the strength of the female spirit, and the earth-rattling effect we can have on society.”
Kaytland says the program offered the opportunity to reflect and learn more about her own leadership style, as well as the leadership styles of others, allowing her to have a greater understanding and appreciation of varying perspectives and perceptions.
“While working through this course, I became aware of my own tendencies to lean toward a domineering conflict style,” Kaytland says. “I can see the effect my personal conflict style could have on others, and how it could create a barrier for reaching a peaceful resolution.
“Someone’s perspective or lived history can create such a large and varied impact on a given situation, and being able to recognize that now allows me to step back and examine an issue from a different view. It creates higher levels of empathy, and a greater chance of peaceful resolution.”
Kaytland says that her experience in the program relit a spark for learning. Inspired by her Coady experience, she will begin St. Francis Xavier University’s Policy and Governance program in September.
“Coady will forever hold a special place in my heart for believing in me and inspiring me to keep growing!”
To learn more or apply to one of Coady’s education programs, visit coady.stfx.ca/education