Women in Leadership: Nadine Bushell – Leadership through Service
When Nadine Bushell joined a local Leo Club at the age of 19, she had no idea that she would become District Governor for its parent organisation, Lions Clubs International.
But in July of this year, she became the first former Leo in the District comprising Suriname, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago to attain that prominent position.
Bushell, who is currently Programme Coordinator at the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), says that a desire to serve led to her to join the Leos. Her early participation in the Girl Guides and Brownies, along with an active church life had already introduced her to community work and she found a natural fit in the service-based international organisation.
“Whatever I do, I put everything into it,” she says. “And so I really took part in everything.”
Her involvement in club activities led to numerous trips overseas and the development of an extensive network of friends from various countries and backgrounds.
“I think I can go to any Caribbean island and there’s somebody I know,” she laughs. “If I’m in trouble I can call and they will answer.”
Besides her growing list of friends and acquaintances, Bushell also credits the Lions Club for her personal development. Leadership skills, the ability to get along with people from various backgrounds, a capacity for understanding different perspectives – all of these, she says, were honed over years of working with her fellow Lions to make a difference in lives.
She hopes, however, to see those interventions become more developmental in nature:
“The major challenge, which is the lynchpin for me, is us in the organisation connecting with the communities to understand their real needs and doing more development-type projects instead of just giving out food.”
Her interest in the betterment of communities and people extends beyond her involvement in the Lions.
Her first degree, for example, a Bachelor of Sciences in Sociology and Management from the University of the West Indies, was followed by a Masters in Development and Project Planning from the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom. Together, they laid the foundation for what seems to be a life-long dedication to community development.
Bushell believes that the Lions Club can be a major regional player in that area. But more work needs to be done:
“I don’t think the Caribbean is showcasing itself and its abilities sufficiently. We are too laid back as a Caribbean people … and I am willing to work to improve the profile of the Caribbean Lion in the organisation.”
She admits, however, that doing so is increasingly difficult in an organisation which relies on volunteerism. She, herself, has struggled at various times with the demands placed on her.
“Contributing can be challenging for me because of where I work. I wouldn’t lie, I often say, 'Nadine what did you do to yourself by taking this position?'” she laughs.
Despite the challenges, there is no question that Bushell’s life has been enriched by her commitment to the Lions Club. And she seems poised to continue her development work both as a career and as a vocation.
“I would like to rise to another level in an organisation in the area of youth and development,” she says.
In relation to the Lions, she hopes to participate in programmes at the international level that would assist the entire organisation. She remains open to any possibility:
“I’ve learnt not to pursue things too aggressively. Whatever you’re given, you do it to the best of your ability and the opportunities just spring up without you even looking for them.”