Post Contributed By: Khrystyna Lazar, Policy Analyst, Manitoba Justice, Leadership Winnipeg Class of 2020-21
I joined Leadership Winnipeg to learn more about being a strong leader in our community. I had the opportunity to listen to successful leaders representing our diverse multicultural city and inspire me to contribute in a meaningful way, one of them being Dorota Blumczynska, incoming CEO of the Manitoba Museum.
Dorota’s journey was filled with challenges, from leaving native Poland, which was under the rule of USSR at the time, under the guise of a vacation, Dorota and her family arrived in Bavaria, Germany as refugees. Dorota’s family was sponsored by a Winnipeg church and arrived in Manitoba in 1989.
Although excited for a new life and stability, the challenges did not stop there. “Migration breaks even the strongest families,” said Dorota of her adaptation, as her parents’ education was not recognized, they were struggling to learn the language, connect with others, and deal with the loss of her mother. Dorota searched for belonging, trying to carve out her identity in a time of uncertainty. “Who we are is often defined by what we do in the hardest moments,” said Dorota in her reflections. Dorota began volunteering in an English language classroom at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM), where she found a sense of purpose and community as members tried to reveal parts of their heart and soul using broken English.
“Who we are is often defined by what we do in the hardest moments”
Throughout her career, Dorota has been taking evolutionary leaps, rather than climbing, as she moved from being a teacher to the Executive Director of IRCOM, a position she has held for the past 10 years. This provided Dorota with the opportunity to learn, make mistakes, and carve out a space for herself. Dorota was often the small leader at the table, the youngest, female, newcomer in the group. Throughout her life, Dorota has come to realize that each individual is a one of a kind lived experience that offers a unique perspective, a story that deserves to be told and needs to be heard.Sometimes there is no invitation and you need to “bust the door open and go anyways” said Dorota.
“Bust the door open and go anyways”
Upon reflecting on her professional experiences, Dorota recommended that when we hear no, to look for the lesson beneath that redirection so it can inform our perspective of the world. Optimize the moment by swimming sideways, not against the current, know where you are headed and remember that the job that you do is the vehicle of how you fulfil life’s purpose.
“Swim Sideways, not against the current”
Being comfortable does not provide us with the opportunity to grow, we need to share our stories and create branches. Dorota suggested focusing on what is the best you can be with the resources you have, and keep going regardless of the surrounding noise.
Dorota is moving into the role of the CEO of the Manitoba Museum, acknowledging the work that was done before her, but mentions that people should not be placed into the shoes of their predecessors and expected to fill them. Dorota is bringing her own shoes, as there are a million pathways to the sun, there are various ways to work towards a shared vision and the same North Star.
May we all merge our skills and professional goals with a sense of purpose, find our belonging and contribute to our community in a meaningful way. We are all leaders, may we remember that we are leading others by our example.
Leadership Winnipeg is supported by:
IG Wealth Management
The Winnipeg Foundation
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Asper School of Business