Who is Linda Brehaut?
As I sit here today imagining all of you, I am warmed with the thought of the many hands that have worked together to ensure that you have the opportunity to stay informed about all the amazing work that is happening behind the scenes (and some on the virtual screens!) in Harmony. Thank you to Roxanne Powell, our HI Note editor, and our entire Communications Team.
I’m thinking back to the opening ceremonies at our recent Virtual International Convention. I hear my name being announced as your incoming International President, and while the first thing I imagine is your immediate, rehearsed response of, “How lovely!” over the next few days I imagine your next response, “Who is this Linda Brehaut? Never heard of her!” read more
With that in mind, I think it is time you hear a little about the “Linda” that has, with the support of an incredible team of Board members and Assistants, agreed to lead this organization for the next year.
I have been a member of Harmony, Inc. for 25 years and sing with Valley Voices, a chapter in Kentville, Nova Scotia, Canada. I’ve served in a number of leadership positions for both my chapter and the Area. I served on the International Board of Directors (IBOD) as the Area 1 Director from 2012 until 2018. During this time, I learned so much about the membership and received much joy in getting to know these people.
I took a year off the IBOD (2018-2019) and then put my name forward for the elections in 2019. Last year, I had the privilege of serving on the Executive Committee as the VP Convention & Contests – what a year to hold that position! It was during this time that I learned so much more about the organization. I now have a better understanding of the amazing leadership, the scope of the positions of the IBOD, the assistants, the committee members, the volunteers – the list is long. I was introduced to how we fit in to the global world of a cappella singing. Honestly, I was so proud of all that this organization stands for that I was willing to do whatever I could to serve it – including letting my name stand to be your International President!
Some people might see me as a “decision maker”. I attempt to make every effort to see things from different perspectives and try to determine what the “big picture” is – what our purpose and intention is. I have held supervisory positions in my career, in other volunteer organizations as well as with Harmony and recognize the important role I play as a role model to those around me.
I am organized (ok.. who wouldn’t like to be more organized!) and possess the ability to compartmentalize my life, which is my saving grace, as I am a very involved and active person with my chapter, my church, my community and yes, my family. I have learned how to set boundaries (those that really know me are smiling now because they would like me to set more boundaries when it comes to working post retirement!) and set priorities. I retired from a 35-year career in health care in 2014 and have been working on a casual basis as a teacher’s assistant (primarily with special needs kids) and, of course, still being called back to the hospital to “help out”! I usually share that I don’t do very many things I don’t want to do. I work because it makes me happy! Dusting and baking… not so much!
I would probably be described by others as a fair and just person. I always work to see the good in a person, or the value in a life lesson. A “problem” is just a teachable moment until we have exhausted all possible solutions, then I might concede that we have a “problem”. We come together from so many different geographic places let alone personal places – our experiences are different and for some of us, seeing the other side is not always an easy thing to do. I hope we can accept what we don’t understand and commit to treating each other in a way that is rooted in respect and acceptance, striving to see and respond with an open mind.
My introduction to being a member of Harmony, Inc. was that the only requirement to join was to be able to “carry a tune” and – “The rest we can teach you.” (they forgot to tell me about the time, money and “be nice” requirements that first night!) . So, despite my insecurities at the time, my overwhelming shyness and my anxiety level hitting the roof, I soon found my place in the chorus – a slow start on the costume committee where I would use my sewing skills to get to know a few members soon stretched in to other committees, then the chapter board and yes, 10 years later, chapter president!
What was my take-home lesson? I belonged. I found a place where I could be me but with each opportunity, the “real me” started to be discovered. There were things I didn’t even know about me. Like leadership. Who would have thought that this incredibly shy person had leadership skills? I may have found Harmony, but Harmony found me and for that, I am grateful!
I love the phrase we have heard over the past couple of years – You Belong. Yes, I belong! Each and every one of us belongs here regardless of our beliefs, our abilities or disabilities, our history, our likes and dislikes. If you can carry a tune and play nice, you belong!
While social situations may be one of my biggest hurdles, I am not one to shy away from a challenge (except singing in a quartet… we all have our limits!) and I am committed to learning and doing as much as I can to lead Harmony, Incorporated through what may very well be another challenging year.
I am here to serve you, the membership of Harmony, Incorporated. I don’t have all the answers – and if you know someone who does, please introduce me! I am a realist and know that all of our decisions will not please everyone. We can, however, strive to understand the background as to why decisions are made (there is always a back story!) and accept that, sometimes, we just might have to agree to disagree. I will do my best to help you understand when I can.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you want to chat over Zoom (we’re getting good at this now!) or an email. Despite a time-zone or two/three, I’m not that far away!
My commitment to be “Constructive for Harmony, Inc.” is strong. Let’s do it together!