Rachel Vander Vennen: Authentic Leadership and Inclusive Communities

In this episode, the spotlight is on Rachel Vander Vennen, an advocate whose journey has been defined by her commitment to building inclusive communities and fostering meaningful relationships.

As the Executive Director of L’Arche Saint John, Rachel’s passion for social inclusion and support for adults with intellectual disabilities takes center stage. Throughout the conversation, the essence of her leadership philosophy shines through—an amalgamation of authenticity, diversity, and a resolute dedication to making a positive impact.

Rachel’s career trajectory, marked by twists of curiosity, brings us face to face with the heart of her narrative. From her academic pursuits at the University of Guelph to her engagement with L’Arche communities, her journey showcases the power of following one’s passions and embracing unconventional paths.

Authenticity takes center stage in the conversation, underscored by Rachel’s insights into authentic leadership and the significance of genuine relationships. She attributes her growth to the support of mentors, such as Dave Stonehouse, and the transformative impact of fostering healthy connections.

We also get to dive into a discussion about the Creative Connections program—a testament to L’Arche’s commitment to creating networks of support and a sense of community. This artistic day program resonates with themes of acceptance, friendship, and belonging, aligning seamlessly with L’Arche’s overarching mission.

The episode concludes with a glance at the “Building Community” event, where our very own Emily Rodger will be taking the stage as emcee. Rachel sheds light on the importance of such gatherings in raising awareness and vital funds to sustain L’Arche’s initiatives. It’s a glimpse into how communities come together to make a tangible difference.

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