There is nothing quite like when members of the community gather together to formulate solutions to the common challenges faced by society. It creates a strong sense of community knowing that we are all in it together. We have a duty as members of our community to empower the individuals and groups around us with the skills and perspective needed to effect meaningful change within the community.

The Aspiring Leaders’ Forum on faith and values (ALF) is modelled on the National Student Leadership forum (NSLF) and initiated by a group of New Zealanders who share a common vision for our youth. Members of Parliament across political parties put their differences aside to host an annual four-day event where a diverse group of committed and courageous young leaders across the country are brought together with the hope of bridging the gap between generations and creating meaningful cross-cultural interaction. They do this by investing in the young leaders of today, offering them life-changing experiences and mentoring, as well as challenging them to think proactively about leadership. The philosophy of the Forum is that serving others is the foundation for a meaningful life, a healthy community, and effective leadership.

Young adults from all walks of life are nominated to attend the Forum by someone who believes in them. ALF gives these representatives of the next generation the encouragement and resources needed to become better leaders in their area of interest, be it community, arts, business, politics, or sport. Over the four days of the event, participants discuss the role that having faith and values has in the core development of one’s character and one’s leadership. 

“The Forum creates a unique opportunity for politicians to explain and discuss their own philosophies.  It is a unique and refreshing event in the life of Parliament.” – Hon Bill English

Over the last two decades, Giselle Wansa-Harvey has been heavily involved in youth leadership at parliaments across Australasia. Over the years Giselle has managed the Community Service, Parliamentary Liaison and Fundraising portfolios for the Aspiring Leaders Forum and has been involved in organising the political side of leadership programmes. She has particular expertise in conflict transformation and diplomatic relationship building, with these skills being accompanied with her knowledge and understanding gained through work towards a Masters of Peace and Conflict Studies (MPCS).

In her role as Parliamentary Liaison Manager, Giselle had many responsibilities, including:

    .  Cultivating relationships with the Members of Parliament involved with the Aspiring Leaders’ Forum

    .  Managing the fundraising initiatives and applications for the Aspiring Leaders’ Forum; and

    .  Identifying potential sponsors and strategic funding 'win-win' opportunities  

Giselle’s expert handling of her portfolios was essential for ensuring the smooth running of the Forum, particularly in its early days. Her personal investment in the next generation of leaders through her relentless cross-party liaison is driven by her passion for enabling our future leaders and community development. After all, it is the leaders of the future who will pick up the baton in coming together to generate innovative solutions to the common and protracted problems we face as a society. The political, community and business leaders brought in on the initiative make it possible for the Forum to succeed in equipping future leaders with the skills and mindset needed to take on this responsibility.