Chevron Scholarships Help Recipients Discover How to 'Lead from the Middle'

When Paula Dewan became supervisor of a staff of 22 at a non-profit organization in Cold Lake, Alberta, she knew she needed to strengthen her leadership skills.

For Dewan, the challenge was how best to acquire the skills she needed to succeed in her new role.


Thanks to a Chevron Canada scholarship, Paula Dewan strengthened her leadership abilities by completing a program at the Banff Centre. Chevron Canada has supported a variety of leadership programs at the centre for more than 30 years.

Enter Chevron Canada and The Banff Centre. For more than 30 years, the two organizations have partnered to offer a variety of leadership training, including programs focused on meeting the needs of Aboriginal community members.

Through a Chevron Canada scholarship, Dewan was able to attend Leading in the Middle, a course offered through the Banff Centre’s internationally renowned Leadership Development Program.

During the intensive five-day course, she worked with 27 colleagues with varying backgrounds in government, non-profits and corporations, learning to build capacity, improve communication skills and develop strategic organizational change.

Building Relationships

“My biggest takeaway is that I want to go back to my organization and work on building relationships,” said Dewan, a supervisor and addictions counsellor at Lakeland Centre for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. “Our staff wants to know what happens at a higher level. If I can offer this as a supervisor, I hope my team will feel more engaged.”

The structure of the program challenged Dewan’s preconception of teamwork. “I realize how important teamwork is from the top to the bottom and back again,” she said.

Dewan described as key learnings the intricacies of the messages sent at all levels, their impact, and different dynamics of people on a team. 

Sarah Van Tine, leadership development client service representative at The Banff Centre, said research shows that it’s in the middle of an organization where change gets stuck. Leading in the Middle supports supervisors to not only discover if the role is right for them, but to empower them along their journey in organizational change. 

Longest Running Program

Courses under the Leadership Development program are the longest running programs at The Banff Centre. The courses are a thoughtfully crafted mix of classroom training, networking through group walks and cohort projects.

A course highlight is the adrenaline-rushing “leap of faith.” The activity has individuals stand at the top of a two-storey pole and, encouraged by their team, leap out into thin air to reach a target below (with appropriate safety equipment, of course).

“Over the years The Banff Centre has been an incredible partner to work with,” said Chevron Canada Social Performance Team Lead Lorelei Piotto. “They collaborate, their programming is innovative, and they are a true incubator for change and development.”

Chevron has supported a variety of leadership programs at The Banff Centre for more than 30 years. Our primary support goes to the Indigenous Leadership Management Program, a course designed to give Aboriginal community leaders the skills to lead change and achieve results. 
Chevron supports scholarships for students in northern Alberta, the Northwest Territories and in British Columbia for communities along the Pacific Trail Pipeline.