Dwight Nelson, CHE, discusses the importance of mentorship and leadership

July 13, 2021

“You are not a leader until you have produced another leader who can produce another leader.” This is Dwight Nelson’s favourite quote as he believes that it is the hallmark and obligation of any true senior leader. He qualifies one of his greatest accomplishments the ability to contribute to the growth and development of others. “I had the good fortune to have some great mentors and coaches over the course of my career and I’ve tried to return that gift to others”.  
Dwight did not have a clinical background or education when he first entered healthcare. He was a young chartered accountant (CA) who started off as a finance director at a hospital. He discovered early on that healthcare is a dynamic field, a place that really matters to everyone at some point in their lives. As he gained experience, several great opportunities to expand into broader management roles came to light, which allowed him to learn more about the care side of the business. He obtained his CHE designation early, which helped him from both an understanding and credibility perspective. He served as a Vice President at Alberta Children’s Hospital, then as inaugural CEO of one of Alberta’s new health regions in the 1990’s. Later, a new opportunity arose in Saskatchewan, and he became President & CEO of one of the large tertiary health regions, a position that he held for 12 years. Today he works in the continuing care sector, an important and challenging environment especially during the pandemic.  
Mr. Nelson has been a member of the College since his first year in healthcare. He served on the national board twice – once as the Alberta director and once as the Saskatchewan director. That has led him to some amazing relationships with several outstanding colleagues across Canada. He has also been involved on many College committees over the years, along with that all important chapter participation. “For the past few years, I’ve had the privilege of chairing the College’s Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion Awards Committee. It’s so relevant today and very enjoyable. I’ve been fortunate to be a recipient of the College’s Mentorship Award in 2012 and the Southern Alberta Chapter Award for Distinguished Service in 2020. Being recognized by one’s colleagues is truly an honour.” 
Being involved with the local CCHL Chapter has been very beneficial both personally and professionally to Dwight. He mentioned how the people you get to know and network with are interesting and committed health leaders. “The educational sessions are timely and topical for anyone committed to ongoing learning and growth. I’ve been involved in local chapter executives in both Alberta and Saskatchewan. You get a lot out of such involvements but it’s also an opportunity to give something back to our profession.”