Category Archives: Interviews

Where are they now? – Andy

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Andy, a 2012 Tempo participant, now teaches in a primary school in Northern Ireland.

What are you doing and why are you doing it? 

Andy: I am currently teaching in a primary school as a key stage 2 learning support teacher for a class of eight children with moderate learning difficulties. I have always been passionate about working with children and young people on the fringes and this job gives me the opportunity to do that daily. It is incredibly challenging at times, but the rewards outweigh the struggle!

What impact has Tempo had on your work and/or life? What have you put into practice from the Tempo content? What has stuck with you since the training?

Andy: Tempo gave me the opportunity to develop my leadership abilities and organisation skills. As a teacher, I now am responsible for casting a vision in my planning and preparation for the year. I also need to delegate constantly, working with and managing additional classroom and learning support. These were all skills I learnt over the course of the Tempo programme.

How can we and others be praying for you?

Andy: Pray for me as I seek to continually learn from others on my journey as a teacher. There is so much still to learn and I make mistakes daily, yet, with reflection and planning I know I can stretch and challenge myself to be the best leader and role model for the children in my classroom.

Where Are They Now? – Emma

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Emma, a 2014 Tempo participant, now works as the School Chaplain to Wilson’s Hospital Boarding School and Diocesan Youth and Children’s Officer in the Church of Ireland Dioceses of Meath and Kildare.

What are you doing and why are you doing it? 

Emma: I’m currently working in dual roles as School Chaplain to Wilson’s Hospital Boarding School and Diocesan Youth and Children’s Officer in the Church of Ireland Dioceses of Meath and Kildare.  At the time of Tempo I was a secondary school teacher and I’ve moved into these roles for a couple of reasons.  I became more convinced that I wanted to be involved in youth and school’s work, but in a more unconventional role than teaching.  I felt very restricted by the Irish examination system and since I can’t single-handedly bring it down, my new role allows me to a bit more creative in how I come alongside pupils as they navigate these difficult years.  Another reason I went for this job was that I was curious to see how I would get on working in a more explicitly “Christian” job where I could be a bit more straightforward in conversations about faith and letting people know they are loved.  The main reason was that, in spite of myself, I knew I was being called into the roles as I came from a rural Church of Ireland and Boarding School background and I knew I would be able to “speak the language” and hopefully be of some use in building the Kingdom in that context.

What impact has Tempo had on your work and/or life? 

Emma: Tempo provided inspiration and direction at a time when I was really in doubt about what I was doing with my life professionally.  The single most important question I have ever been asked professionally was at the centre of the Tempo experience: how would your context look different if the Kingdom of God came?  That reflective question was the catalyst for so much of the activity I began in my last year as a teacher in a secondary school. At the time I was heartbroken when, during the Tempo course, it became clear my time at the school was coming to an end (career break cover that had always been uncertain).  Looking back now I see that a great future was around the corner and that in the meantime I lived so much more confidently, meaningfully and faithfully because of the dreams and plans that the Tempo course caused me to put into action in work.  Even though some of the projects never had a chance to develop into what I had dreamed, the experience I gained by starting them, and the relationships that I built because of those “start ups” were so invaluable – both personally and professionally in my new roles.  I know I would have stayed in the comfortable rut that year if I hadn’t had the input from the course and the encouragement and accountability of the other participants on Tempo.  Tempo also linked me in with the work of Innovista in general and I really benefitted from their Leading for Life event as a kind of top up of inspiration after Tempo had been done for a while.

What have you put into practice from the Tempo content? What has stuck with you since the training?

Emma: Listening to your context was an important principle that has been useful in the move to a new part of Ireland and a new job.  I’ve been navigating the difficult terrain of trying to pitch in to “the way we do things round here” and at the same time, injecting some energy and new perspectives, so the listening piece has been great to help me do that more sensitively.  I do struggle with throwing myself into different opportunities as they arise, but I constantly have the Tempo lessons about vision and strategy floating around the back of my mind.  That knowledge has been making me really determined to set aside some time to think about the bigger picture and think more long-term.

How can we and others be praying for you?

Emma: In terms of prayer my biggest problem is definitely that the jobs can be all-consuming, because they require so much creativity and energy.  This coupled with the fact that I can become a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to a project I care about, is a bit of a recipe for fatigue and losing your sense of purpose.  I am always happy to be prayed for about discipline, forming healthy routines, taking space to spend time with God and remember what it’s all about!

New Team Members – Introducing Liesel

Liesel hopeWith eight years’ experience of working with teenagers from difficult inner-city environments, training and managing volunteers and running summer camps at Dublin Christian Mission (DCM), we feel privileged to welcome Liesel Reimer to the team at Innovista.

Liesel moved to Dublin in 2005 having grown up in British Columbia, Canada, attended college in Alberta and worked for 18 months in Switzerland. As a missionary with EMCC World Partners in Canada, she came to Dublin to take up the post of Youth Work Coordinator at DCM. She recently received her Irish citizenship.

We’re excited about the energy, expertise and experience Liesel has already brought to the team and the contribution she will make as a trainer for RISE and Tempo. We asked her a few questions:

What brought you to join Innovista?
A few years ago, one of our interns at DCM rang me to ask if I would commit to praying for her while she participated in Tempo. I was really impressed with how incredibly practical Innovista’s leadership training was. Last year a meeting with Ashleigh confirmed my belief in the vision of Innovista. I knew the areas that God was calling me into further and realised that a change of venue would need to take place in order to move more fully into those areas. So here I am!

What are you passionate about?
My heart starts to race with excitement when I am gifted with the opportunity to connect with people and show them with all I do and say just how uniquely important they are – that the truest and deepest parts of them are seen and accepted by the one who Created them. In this environment change is sparked and they begin to believe that they also have the potential to shape the community and world around them.

What have been some of the biggest influences on your leadership journey?
I met with her nearly once a day for every year from age 9 through 17. She taught me about friendship, confidence, caring for people, problem-solving, and being proactive in making the world a better place … yes, one of the first women who inspired my leadership was Nancy Drew! During my late teens and early 20s I had a lot of people in positions of authority who saw potential in me and encouraged it even if they didn’t share the same beliefs as me – they are too numerous to name but have shaped how I believe in and encourage others! In more recent years, I have fumbled my way through leading others and learning how to lead more effectively. During this journey there have been different “experts” I have gone to with specific questions. Their wisdom and advice has taught me about the importance of life-long learning, asking the questions, and being available for others.

What 3 things have inspired you recently?
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
The Director of EMCC World Partners, Sandra Tjart
Changes that Heal by Henry Cloud

Liesel has been plunged in at the deep end helping Ashleigh lead RISE with 22 transition year (16yr old) girls in Mount Carmel school in north inner city Dublin.

We have two other RISE groups running and a fourth about to start in Ballymun.

RISE is gaining momentum and credibility. Recently we had the opportunity to present RISE to Dublin’s north inner city education committee. We are excited by teachers and community workers becoming advocates for how we are practically equipping teenagers to bring hope to their communities.

Tempo – training leaders who train leaders

KeithDeveloping leaders is a process that takes time. Time to implement, to build team, observe, experiment, evaluate, tweak and practice skills. Secondary school teacher Keith was a member of the Belfast Tempo group that finished last year and leads the Scripture Union group at his school.

“Tempo has given me the confidence to try more things, and actively pursue a vision for change rather than just accepting things the way they are. It provided me with the tools and know how to analyse my role and our group, set a specific vision and the strategies needed to push us forward”

SUNI - Making your markOver the year since finishing Tempo, Keith has been helping his SU group get a clearer focus on what it means for them to do mission in, and serve their school. Little did he realise that faithfully pursuing that calling and implementing his learning from Tempo would see him leading seminars on vision for SU leaders from 25 schools across Northern Ireland this month!

We want to equip more leaders like Keith to bring lasting hope to the places they live, work and lead.

We currently have two Tempo groups running and will be starting two new Tempo groups in Dublin and Belfast in November.

If you are interested or  know any young leaders who would benefit from Tempo see here for more information and download the Tempo flyer here.


Ashleigh’s story – six months of pioneering leadership among teenagers in Dublin

Just Ashleigh Google Day ‘We owe it to each other to tell stories’ and there are many stories that I want to share from my first six months in Dublin’s fair city.

I started my journey here taking time to get a feel of my new surroundings, being introduced to a collection of inspiring people and falling in love with this city, which I am now beginning to call home.  I love the natural warmth and open hospitality of Dubliners. From a local café owner to the young teenagers who have weaved themselves into my heart to the strangers who I know call my friends, I have been bowled over by genuine acceptance and love.

But why I came here in the first place and why I am hoping that this journey will last is my experience in coming on board as an intern with Innovista in September 2012.

I moved to Dublin because I am deeply passionate about seeing young people from disadvantaged backgrounds discover that they are of worth and that they have the potential to see and experience positive change in their lives. Focusing on developing and piloting Innovista’s youth leadership program, Rise has enabled me to work with such young people and see their potential to thrive begin to be realised.

Our first pilot in a local boys school in Dublin 8 has provided a means for entering into the life of the community in which I live, where these boys have grown up,  and has broken down any stereotypes or reservations I may have had about engaging and relating with 14-year-old boys from inner city Dublin. They are hard work at times but I love them!

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Reflecting back on these past six months, I am excited to have met some incredible people doing transformational work among communities and teenagers here, some of which I have had the privilege of being a part of, most frequently as a mentor to Melissa.

Melissa is a 13-year-old girl from Dublin 8 who dreams of becoming either a politician or an astrophysicist (oh the decisions!) but whose dreams could easily be trampled upon when living in an area where most people don’t care about further education or see the point in believing that they could go on to achieve something like this. It encourages me to see her strive for more and I love being a part of her journey, helping her to see that this can be a reality for her despite her circumstances and surroundings.

Even with the great work going on, there is still huge potential for many more lives to be changed and transformed. I am excited to be small part of how Innovista are helping teenagers here experience hope and change. I believe that this is possible and that as a result, teenagers here will change the schools, youth groups and communities they are a part of for the better.

Bring on the next six months!

You can help us be a part of transforming the lives of more teenagers across Dublin and beyond by giving or fundraising for us by taking part in the Flora Dublin Women’s Mini Marathon or the Belfast Marathon Relay.

Ed’s Story – leadership, identity and purpose

Identity is at the core of (Christian) leadership. It has been so clear to me over the past number of years that leaders need to be secure in who they are. When a leader is secure in his or her identity as a child and heir of God, it liberates them to be able to invest in others, to develop the gifts and abilities of other leaders, to enable others to become greater than they are. All too often when leaders strive for control, or engage in destructive practices and conflict it can be traced back to identity issues. To feeling insecure and threatened by the gifts and abilities of others. To being afraid of how others look in comparison to them. Knowing who we are as leaders is critical – not just for our own health, but for the good of those we serve.

Ed Dobson (originally from Northern Ireland and pictured right) was a megachurch pastor in the US who had huge influence politically as a leader in the Moral Majority. He developed Motor Neurone Disease and life changed dramatically. He has made a series of short films exploring some of his learning, including this one: my garden which you can view on Rachel Held Evans blog.

So often we find our identity in our job or role, or position of influence. What happens when all of that changes?

Watch Ed’s Story: my garden to hear some of his reflections

Ed wrote a fascinating book recently called the Year of Living Like Jesus