Ron was approaching his 10-year work anniversary for Elim Village. As Executive Director, ten years was a significant length of time to leave a leadership mark, and several of his co-workers wanted to mark the occasion in a special way.
One long-time leader approached me with a vision about a special art piece. She described a vision of a painting combining multiple elements telling the story of Ron's legacy at Elim over the years. We discussed how to approach the piece and how to go about visually representing a leader's legacy. Above all, we wanted to ensure the finished piece would represent not what people thought would be meaningful for Ron, but what was actually meaningful for Ron, in how he thought of his own legacy. Consultation with key personnel was required.
I set about collecting feedback from key staff members, asking for the highlights of Ron's decade at Elim. I also requested words to describe him, as I planned to subtly incorporate text throughout, words to reflect the kind of leader he was.
The notable items raised included the expansion of Elim over the years; the opening of a long-term care building, the start of a second Elim Village community in Chilliwack, the design and execution of a gorgeous gazebo at the Surrey location. Sketching representative buildings of this growth reflected the major milestones from Ron's ten years, but what surfaced even more strongly than these tangible milestones was the team of people that Ron led. For Ron, his legacy wasn't chiefly about buildings and expansion; it was about the team he worked with. Only together can great things be accomplished, greater than what one individual can accomplish on their own.
For this reason, the team motif is the central one of this Story Portrait of Ron. Words are also subtly inscribed throughout the painting, communicating the words his staff used to described him, such as, “inspiring", “visionary", and “mentor".
This painting hangs beautifully framed in Ron's office.
Update: five years after receiving this painting, it still remains hanging in Ron's office, where he has recently completed 15 years at Elim Village. He continues to consider this Story Portrait one of the best gifts he has ever received.