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From Our Vantage Point Episode 66 – Food for Thought

From Our Vantage Point Episode 66 – Food for Thought

Episode 66:

Food for Thought

We centre food insecurity in the Lower Mainland with Zahra Esmail, Executive Director of South Van Neighbourhood House, and Upkar Singh Tatlay, Executive Director of Engaged Communities Canada Society in this very special podcast. While food insecurity is the theme, Zahra, Upkar, and podcast host Rowan discuss how racial biases impact the lives of immigrants, refugees, and street-entrenched individuals and how ECCS and Neighbourhood House support the work to meet their needs.

Presented by Humanity Financial Management

From our Vantage Point is brought to you by Humanity Financial Management, a Chartered Accounting firm dedicated to helping Canadian not-for-profit, charitable and social enterprises build capacity for strong internal financial management.  Humanity Financial Management’s part-time controllers and CFOs provide support for budgeting, reporting, audit preparation, policies and procedures, and internal controls. Their results: Financial risk reduction and asset protection. Visit Humanity Financial Management online at humanityfinancial.ca.

Zahra Esmail has been the Executive Director of the vibrant South Vancouver Neighbourhood House since 2016, and is the first Executive Director of the Marpole Neighbourhood House, which opened under her leadership in 2019. With a background in community development, her current portfolio includes food security, settlement and integration services, licensed childcare, children and family development, youth leadership, seniors wellness, and Adult Day Programs. Prior to her current role, Zahra was the General Manager of Eva’s Phoenix, a transitional shelter and training program in Toronto. She has also worked in international development with Street Kids International, Haven Haiti and BRAC with responsibility for programs in Haiti, India, the Philippines, Colombia, Sierra Leone, and Ethiopia. Zahra was recognized as one of Business in Vancouver’s Forty Under 40 in 2019.

About South Vancouver Neighbourhood House

South Vancouver Neighbourhood House (SVNH) is a community-based organization that focuses on connecting people and strengthening the neighbourhoods in South Vancouver. Located at Victoria Drive and 49th Avenue, SVNH serves the Sunset, Victoria-Fraserview, and Killarney-Champlain neighbourhoods. Programs and services are determined by conditions within each community and by the needs and interests of the people living in that community. Current programs and services include Seniors’ Wellness, Youth Leadership, Licensed Preschool and Out-of-School Care, Parenting and Family Resource Programs, Settlement Services for Newcomers, Food Security, Literacy, and Adult Day Programs, Community Engagement Events, and more. Each year, over 7,000 individuals participate in our programs, which are run in partnership with almost 700 volunteers.

Upkar smiling at the camera, in front of branches of a pine tree.

Upkar Singh Tatlay resides and works on the unceded territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation where he oversees research, data-collection, and the development of health care innovations and experimental development R&D projects at Oxus Machine Works Ltd. In addition to this, he is an academic supervisor who provides research consultancy services to government, health authorities, academic institutions, and centres for disease control. Upkar is also the Executive Director of Engaged Communities Canada Society, and has delivered targeted solutions on climate change, substance use, homelessness, food security challenges and youth challenges. His academic credentials include certifications from the Justice Institute of BC, degrees from the University of Victoria, and the University of British Columbia where he helped establish the Scientific Creative Quarterly. Upkar is the current Vice President of the DIVERSEcity Board of Director and one of the Founder’s and current Treasurer of the South Asian Community Hub. He is the host of the “Hypatia Talks“ podcast, Co-founder of Sundar Expo 2022, a Commissioner with Vital Statistics BC, and a member of the Radius SFU social innovation hub.

About Engaged Communities Canada Society

Engaged Communities Canada Society aims to address the systemic gaps that exist for underserved communities across British Columbia’s lower mainland region in accessing equitable solutions to complex health challenges. Our efforts are targeted to the community’s most vulnerable, including IBPoC populations, those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, children and youth, and individuals experiencing challenges related to socioeconomic factors and addiction.

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Navigating the Not-For-Profit Sector with a Tandem Bike – Olivia Gordon

Navigating the Not-For-Profit Sector with a Tandem Bike – Olivia Gordon

Navigating the Not-For-Profit Sector with a Tandem Bike

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Earlier this summer, my partner and I went on a cycling trip through Ktunaxa territory. This involved a great deal of logistics coordination to do the route-planning, campsite-booking, food-stop-finding, lightweight packing, and so on. While my partner typically and generously takes the reigns when it comes to planning our bikepacking trips, I am able to use my coordination and organization skills at work. As the Client & Program Delivery Coordinator at Vantage Point, I provide detail-oriented administration and coordination support for all our education and consulting engagements. This involves setting up client folders and files, drafting proposals and contracts, and communicating logistics, reviewing and sharing materials, providing follow-up and evaluation support, and spending a lot of time in Salesforce CRM. I have always loved taking care of the little details; making sure everything is accounted for and running smoothly; and I have seen, felt, and heard how this work can help increase impact.

I know impact can be hard to define and measure, and I know impact can be bigger and more transformative when it’s accomplished collaboratively. It’s like cycling: I go farther, have more fun, and feel stronger when I’m riding with people I care about (sometimes literally on the same bike because my pandemic purchase was a tandem). This collaborative and relational piece is something that I appreciate about Vantage Point. Internally and externally, there is a lot of putting our heads together and relationship-nurturing that makes our work possible and impactful. One of our guiding principles is mobilizing resources to respond to the needs of the not-for-profit sector. These resources include our staff, Board Members, Knowledge Philanthropists (skilled volunteers), associates, members, and community partners from across the sector we interact with every day. Through our training and consulting engagements, convening activities, peer networks (shout out to my Youth Network peers and colleagues), communities of practice, meetings, and even email threads, these relationships provide so many learning and listening opportunities. I’m glad to be part of a workplace that is a ‘living lab’ – allowing for experimentation, mistakes, vulnerability, and my own personal and professional growth alongside Vantage Point’s development.

One thing I’m continuously exploring – on the bike and at work – is how to balance being introverted and wanting connection. Luckily, cycling is both an individual and team sport, depending on the day and the person. At Vantage Point, it’s much the same. I can enjoy working independently behind the scenes, and I can enjoy the opportunities to actually interact with people from the not-for-profit community. As the first point of contact for many who reach out about our services, I am able to connect with amazing people from all over the province. One of our consultants regularly cc’s me on emails and notes that I take “good care” of our clients (thank you JP!). I play a small role in these relationships, but I do try to create helpful and accessible spaces for our community members, even by means of simple email communication (when I sign off with “warmly,” I mean it!). I am happy to hear from clients, our generous Knowledge Philanthropists, and our own incredible consultants about the impact of our work and any learnings we can build on. Like all my colleagues, I am always working to improve my understanding – and respond to – organizations’ and individuals’ needs. The one-on-one engagements we do with organizations through our education and consulting work also informs our Sector Development efforts, so we can lift the sector’s capacity on an individual, organizational, and structural level. This multifaceted impact we strive for also makes me grateful to work at Vantage Point.

I started working in this sector at Pillar Nonprofit Network when I lived in London, Ontario. My internship was during the winter months, and I’d commute by bike when I could. I’ve banked many miles between then and now. These days, I work virtually from Vancouver, commuting from my bedroom to my living room/office space and biking outside of ‘office hours’. Although I’m still early on in my career in this sector and navigating what it even means to have a career, I’m thankful to be surrounded by a deeply caring and fun not-for-profit community, peddling away together to create a transformative and lasting (positive) impact. Picture all of us on one of those party bikes…

Author

Olivia Gordon

Olivia is our Client and Program Delivery Coordinator, who is the first to greet our clients interested in custom and on-site delivery opportunities. She brings a thoughtful, compassionate, and critical thinking lens to her work. She cares deeply about social and environmental justice…

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Navigating the Not-For-Profit Sector with a Tandem Bike – Olivia Gordon

The Road to Consulting is Paved with Sticky Notes – JP Baker

The Road to Consulting is Paved with Sticky Notes

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Like most children growing up on the Canadian prairie in the 1980s, I always dreamed of being a planning consultant in the not-for-profit sector. Kidding, of course. This is the kind of work that people tend to fall into because they have an interest in social impact, in how people organize in groups to make that impact, and in how groups articulate what they want to achieve so that they can convince others (funders, partners, volunteers) to get on board.

My route to Vantage Point is rather circuitous. In my youth, I spent a lot of time travelling the country, working at jobs ranging from blueberry picker to industrial recycling waste sorter. Ever the pragmatist, I eventually went to university to study literature and languages. Simply put, I was interested in humans and their words. I parlayed that education into a career in adult language education and freelance writing. In South Korea, I spent several years in teaching, management, and corporate communications. Back in Canada, I applied my entrepreneurial spirit to establish two businesses, one bricks and mortar (a language school) and one virtual (a consultancy in language education).

However, as I started freelance writing for not-for-profit organizations and volunteering on boards, and then facilitating community planning processes, I found something I needed more of: meaning and connection. The meaning came through social impact, in making changes in the community and the broader world. It somehow felt like an extension of the political and cultural activism of my youth. The connection came through working with groups of others – staff, leaders, community organizers, boards – to make that impact. I also discovered sticky notes.

Fast forward to January of 2020, when I sat down to make annual goals for my independent consulting business. By that time, I’d been working for several years in the greater Kamloops region supporting not-for-profits with strategy and governance, talking about how clarity and cohesion can lead to greater impact. At a time when “social distancing” wasn’t yet entrenched in our lexicon, I decided that in 2020 I wanted to a) expand my geographical reach throughout BC, and b) collaborate with others more fully and intentionally. Oddly enough, the pandemic – and widespread adoption of tools for virtual work – helped make those goals a reality.

In October of 2020, I excitedly joined the Vantage Point team. It wasn’t the first time meeting several team members. I’d discussed governance and provincial outreach over Zoom with some of them (yes: Vantage Point was using Zoom in the Before Times!). And I’d worked with Maria Turnbull to submit a joint proposal for a large strategic planning engagement. I had a sense of how the team worked, with each other and with people outside the organization. So, when the opportunity arose, I decided to leave 15 years of self-employment behind.

At Vantage Point I’ve found the same spirit of abundance that guided my independent work for years. I’ve found an amazing and diverse team of people from whom I learn new things every single day. And I’ve been able not only to collaborate more fully and completely, but also to serve new client organizations throughout the province (and country), of all sizes and stages, doing truly impactful work. Besides helping our client organizations plan, articulate, and activate ideas for change and impact, I play a role at Vantage Point in sector development. I convene and connect organizations, bringing not-for-profit leaders together to formulate sector-wide aspirations.

Author

JP Baker

JP is our Planning Consultant, ready to support organizations strategize the most effective ways to reach their goals. JP has extensive experience as a facilitator, consultant, researcher, and writer. As a consultant, JP is sought out for his expertise in governance, organizational culture…

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From Our Vantage Point Episode 66 – Food for Thought

From Our Vantage Point Episode 65 – All Things HiVE

Episode 65:

All Things HiVE

Anna Whelan, Executive Director of the HiVE, and Board Member Juliana Craig, join us to introduce Vancouver’s only not-for-profit coworking space. Here we discuss what the HiVE’s pandemic recovery looks like and how collaboration and community have bolstered and uplifted staff, members, and the sector in general throughout times of change.


HiVE Vancouver is a not-for-profit social enterprise serving the social venture community. Their space is a unique coworking space located in the Gastown neighbourhood of Vancouver, BC. They are home to change makers, social enterprises, environmental sustainability groups, and other creative class individuals that support social and environmental sustainability. With over 100 desks, three board rooms and 9,000 square feet of space, there’s a home for just about everyone at the HiVE.

Presented by Humanity Financial Management

From our Vantage Point is brought to you by Humanity Financial Management, a Chartered Accounting firm dedicated to helping Canadian not-for-profit, charitable and social enterprises build capacity for strong internal financial management.  Humanity Financial Management’s part-time controllers and CFOs provide support for budgeting, reporting, audit preparation, policies and procedures, and internal controls. Their results: Financial risk reduction and asset protection. Visit Humanity Financial Management online at humanityfinancial.ca.

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Navigating the Not-For-Profit Sector with a Tandem Bike – Olivia Gordon

Path to People – Dorla Tune

Path to People

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When I was nearing the end of my high school career and was deciding which path I was going to take for post-secondary, I narrowed down the decision to two choices.  I was either going to pursue my love of writing by going to journalism school at Carleton University, or pursue my calling to work with people and take a Social Work degree at McMaster University. In my 19-year-old wisdom I made the decision to go with Social Work because “when I get burned out, I will just go back to school for writing.”  Ahhh youth.  It was likely this choice that solidified value alignment as the unwavering foundation of each decision to leave or take on a particular position. When I learned about the core values in the Canadian Social Work Code of ethics, it is the top three that became imprinted in my approach to my work life:  Respect for Inherent Dignity and Worth of Persons, Pursuit of Social Justice, and Service to Humanity.

This career choice led me to work alongside people at a variety of non-profit organizations and many sectors including gender violence, child welfare, newcomer settlement, philanthropy, and community development. As an introvert, I often question why I chose a path of people work. People are exhausting.  But they are also capable, complex, creative, and brilliant.  What keeps me coming back to human-centred work is the opportunity to learn from their stories and realities.  Each of my work experiences presented opportunities to learn how an inequitable and unjust world impacts different people. Not-for-profits have a profoundly important responsibility to create spaces where people feel worthy, human, and valued. Regardless of an organization’s mission or mandate, social justice cannot be treated as outside the scope of work. Yet, this is how many now operate.

The year 2020 refused to let the world sleep on social justice, and 2021 is not dropping the baton. I joined the Vantage Point team in September 2020. During the summer of Anti-Black Racism preceding my start, I was taking intentional space to be still and remain in healing spaces.  Despite being immediately drawn to the posting for Organizational Consultant at Vantage Point, I was now approaching career decisions with a revised set of criteria. However, I knew this position was an opportunity to bring 20 years’ learning and experience working in non-profit organizations and reflect it back while supporting the development of leadership in the sector. Leadership in any area is best demonstrated through the humility of ongoing learning, and the bravery of making change based on what is learned.

Almost ten months later, I continue to celebrate my choice to join a team of staff who value learning alongside our members, partners, volunteers, clients, and the diverse communities at large. Vantage Point describes itself as a learning lab and 2021 continues to test this claim with the ever-emerging societal shifts and movements, as well as our own internal ones.  Every day that I show up at Vantage Point, I see the staff team’s willingness to step in to discomforting spaces, reflect, ask questions, collaborate on new approaches, and implement changes. I am extremely grateful.

Author

Dorla Tune

Dorla Tune is our Organizational Consultant who supports and strengthens our training, planning, and consulting services. Dorla has over 20 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector which spans across multiple provinces and organizations. She started in Ontario where she graduated from McMaster University…

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From Our Vantage Point Episode 66 – Food for Thought

From Our Vantage Point Episode 64 – Nav Passes the Baton

Episode 64:

Nav Passes the Baton

This week, Nav joins the podcast from the other side of the From Our Vantage Point table and discusses her work at Vantage Point, her vision for the podcast, and what’s next. Nav is the new Marketing & Communications Manager at Take a Hike Foundation, although many know her as the voice of the Vantage Point podcast. Listen in on this brief chat to mark the end of an era and join Rowan as he picks up where Nav leaves off as the third host of From Our Vantage Point.


Take a Hike Foundation engages vulnerable youth in a full-time program of intensive and continuous clinical counselling, outdoor adventure, academics, and community. They partner with public school districts who provide a high-quality education, and together empower youth with the skills and resilience they need to graduate high school, build healthy relationships, and navigate their own path to success.

Presented by Humanity Financial Management

From our Vantage Point is brought to you by Humanity Financial Management, a Chartered Accounting firm dedicated to helping Canadian not-for-profit, charitable and social enterprises build capacity for strong internal financial management.  Humanity Financial Management’s part-time controllers and CFOs provide support for budgeting, reporting, audit preparation, policies and procedures, and internal controls. Their results: Financial risk reduction and asset protection. Visit Humanity Financial Management online at humanityfinancial.ca.

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“Disabling” Communications – Rowan King

“Disabling” Communications – Rowan King

Rowan's Blog

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“Disabling” Communications

          I love communications because when we create spaces for dialogue and share our visions, missions, goals, passions – whether they are individual or organizational – the very fabric of our societies begins to weave in unique, interesting ways.

            It’s a funny time to be writing you about my work. Although I have worked at Vantage Point for two years now (July 2019), I’m in the somewhat suspenseful position of Interim Communications Manager, filling in after Nav’s transition to Take a Hike Foundation this April.

            I started at Vantage Point as a practicum student at Langara’s Library & Information Technology diploma program and built the Vantage Point library. After a fun and engaging practicum, I applied for the Marketing & Communications Coordinator role – previously championed by our Membership & Government Relations Coordinator, Miranda Maslany – and landed the position as I continued my studies. As the Marketing & Communications Coordinator, I eagerly introduced video production and editing to the role. I worked with team members to create our Membership video, and found opportunities for video in Volunteer Appreciation Week, and the #Elimin8Hate campaign. I even dabbled in animation with some of our custom delivery content!

            Despite the temporary nature of my interim role, I find myself diving into very deep, meaningful, and hopefully long-term work. While co-leading the conversation at Vantage Point around accessibility alongside the brilliant Kathleen Lane, I am also currently captioning videos for Homelessness Services Association of British Columbia (HSABC) – which has provided an incredible learning opportunity when it comes to BC’s housing crisis. As a side note, you can read about the powerful impact organizations like WISH have via an interview I conducted with Mebrat Beyene last Summer. As the Vantage Point team focuses in on our first strategic priority around equity, decolonization, and inclusion (EDI), it has been a great opportunity to focus on accessibility and designing digital media for people with disabilities (PWD).

            I’ll be honest and admit accessibility as an aspect of my work sort of snuck up on me. It was not a topic I considered much growing up, but when I met my fiancé, it became a regular discussion and I started to notice major gaps in infrastructure, services, and language. I was later diagnosed with a lifelong disability as an adult and started to truly understand how disabilities – especially when overlooked or undiagnosed – have very real impacts on a person’s life and livelihood. The concept of “disability” is a large, encompassing umbrella term which stretches beyond even my own understanding at times. It is both macro and micro, necessary to look at the big picture while keeping in mind each disability is extremely personal.

            How many people in your life openly have a disability? According to data released in 2017 in The Canadian Survey on Disability, 22% of Canadians over 15 years of age have at least one disability.[1] That means more than 6.2 million people and does not encapsulate all people within Canada. When you take that number into account, how many people in your life would you estimate actually have a disability – known or unknown? The interesting thing about disabilities is that at some point in their life, almost everyone will have a disability whether it is due to injury, genetics and/or ageing.[2] Despite their prevalence, disabilities account for some of the most widely misrepresented, misunderstood, and stigmatized lived experiences.

            On average, working adults with disabilities experience a wage gap of up to $19,800 after taxes with an approximate 56% employment rate (compared to the 80% without disabilities).[3] An article published in Wiley in 2020 found people with developmental disabilities were over-represented in Ontario prisons at 2.2% of incarcerated individuals – compared to the 0.7% represented in the general public.[4] Additionally, many people with disabilities don’t have marriage equality across Canada. In BC, if a spouse earns more than $2,460/year, the disabled person in that relationship loses access to their financial and medical benefits which often covers otherwise unaffordable medical expenses.[5] What if the spouse can’t afford those bills? What if both individuals require expensive accommodations? There are also social aspects to marriage equality; for example, if two dependant adults want to marry each other, an unsupportive community might create barriers.

            How to serve people from a broad range of backgrounds was a constant theme in my Library & Information Technology studies. Naturally, libraries are fantastic resources for people largely underserved and overlooked by many service providers. Between the conversations I would have at home around disabilities, and the opportunities arising at school to learn about disability services, I developed a real interest for the work. By second year, any time we could choose our project topic I treated it as an opportunity to learn more about disability services. As an added perk, we visited the National Network for Equitable Library Service – how cool is that!

            It’s interesting how communicating with individuals and inviting them into what we love learning creates opportunities. As I began having more conversations about designing for people with disabilities, new and unexpected pathways emerged. After many meaningful conversations, my cousin and good friend invited me to learn Mental Health First Aid, and my colleague shared information about a certificate program I jumped on in designing digital content for accessibility. I love communications because when we create spaces for dialogue and share our visions, missions, goals, passions – be them individual or organizational – the very fabric of our societies begins to weave in unique, interesting ways.

            With this Interim Communications Manager role, I am folding in my lived experience as a disabled person, my path in education, and cumulative work experience. I am co-creating an internal Vantage Point guide on digital accessibility practices and soon leading training sessions for the whole team – while at the same time captioning videos for another not-for-profit. The best part is seeing how excited other people are to learn this content as well! There are many things in life to be excited about (people who join Vantage Point know I love cycling before they meet me, somehow), but information sharing through meaningful communication is the greatest of all, because connecting through language is the key to cultural and social change.

 Discover BC’s vast disability services on their website: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/family-social-supports/services-for-people-with-disabilities/supports-services

 

 

[1]New Data on Disability in Canada, 2017. Statistics Canada, 2017. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11-627-m/11-627-m2018035-eng.htm

[2] Disability and Health. World Health Organization, 2020. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/disability-and-health

[3] Disability in Canada: Facts and Figures. Easter Seals, 2019. https://easterseals.ca/english/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Disability-in-Canada-Facts-Figures-updated-Oct-2019.pdf

[4] Whittingham, Lisa, et al. The Prevalence and Health Status of People with Developmental Disabilities in Provincial Prisons in Ontario, Canada: A Retrospective Cohort Study. Wiley, 2020. https://onlinelibrary-wiley-com.ezproxy.langara.ca/doi/epdf/10.1111/jar.12757

[5] British Columbia – Marriage Equality by Province. Kate and CRPS, 2020. http://www.kateandcrps.com/british-columbia-marriage-equality-by-province/

Author

Rowan King

Rowan takes care of the marketing and communications side of Vantage Point. He designs the newsletters you see in your inbox, edits the videos and podcasts you stream, populates the social media feeds you follow, and more! Rowan has a passion for accessibility and information collection (i.e.,…

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“Disabling” Communications – Rowan King

Welcome, Lynn Moran, Interim Executive Director!

Welcome, Lynn Moran, Interim Executive Director!

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Vantage Point is pleased to introduce Lynn Moran as interim Executive Director while a search begins for a new, permanent Executive Director. Lynn has more than 30 years of experience in the not-for-profit sector in BC, Canada and internationally, leading organizational growth. She previously led the Community Action Initiative with Canadian Mental Health Association – BC, AMSSA, and Crossroads International. Over the next three to four months, Lynn will be focusing on supporting Vantage Point staff who continue to deliver programs and lead projects to lift the not-for-profit sector in BC.

The Vantage Point Board worked with Wayne Robert, a Third Sector Company affiliate, to recruit Lynn in this interim position. Wayne and Third Sector Company have established a methodology that takes the opportunity to use the interim period to prepare an organization for new, stable leadership. Wayne will continue to be a Senior Advisor in the process and has done so for six other organizations in the past five years, which includes working with Lynn in a previous placement. Vantage Point would recommend Wayne to members who are looking for interim help and he can be reached at wayneyvr@mac.com.

 

Looking Forward

Our vision continues to be for a thriving not-for-profit sector where organizations mindfully engage talented people and draw on a spirit of abundance to achieve their missions. As our members know, Vantage Point is known for providing both quality education through its Knowledge Philanthropists, and for evolving with the sector to respond to the needs of our members.

As we prepare for a post-pandemic reality, Vantage Point remains committed to a thoughtful and strategic approach to building the capacity of not-for-profits through education and consulting, and initiatives to foster a stronger partnership with government to invest in the sector.

Lynn is aware that this is a priority for both staff and members. There are several options being explored to help ensure attention and energy goes into the Sector Development work in a thoughtful manner. While Lynn will focus primarily on Vantage Point’s interim processes, working closely with the Board, her years of experience will undoubtedly help to build the foundation for a new Executive Director to lead Vantage Point with a long-term vision for a thriving not-for-profit community.

The Vantage Point team extends our gratitude to the Board for their dedication and tireless efforts throughout this process, to Harbour West for their advisory support, and leading the search for a permanent Executive Director; as well as to Wayne Robert, a Third Sector Company affiliate, for identifying Lynn as interim Executive Director, and of course, to Lynn Moran for joining the team in this time of transition

Author

Vantage Point

We are a team of passionate and dedicated not-for-profit professionals dedicated to providing not-for-profits with high quality leadership training. We are here to set you up for success. Learn more about our team at www.thevantagepoint.ca/about/our-people/

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“Disabling” Communications – Rowan King

Thank You, Alison!

Thank you, Alison

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“As the eternal optimist, I seek change as a process of improvement and getting to better places. I believe that change refreshes, allows new perspectives, challenges outdated thinking.” – Alison Brewin, Change: My Takeaways as an Executive Director

At the end of April, after three years of hard work and dedication as Executive Director, Alison departed from Vantage Point. Alison led Vantage Point through profound change and transformation, focusing the organization on a path of sector development and convening many not-for-profit leaders along the way.

In honour of Alison’s contributions to our team, Vantage Point as a whole, and BC’s not-for-profit sector, we would like to highlight her achievements in demonstrating each of our five team values – the first being her implementation of these values to unite our staff and stakeholders in our vision and mission.

Abundance & Adaptability

Strengths-based | Encouragement + Support | Openness | Make it happen! | Flexibility | Learn from mistakes

It is clear when interacting with Alison that she cares deeply about people. Staff felt this when we were reminded to take time for ourselves and find ways to relax when the work became intense – whether because of COVID-19 or due to it just being “that time of year”.

When the pandemic hit, Alison was quick to develop weekly, then bi-weekly, updates on how the team was fairing and our latest accomplishments, as well as process adventures. It was a great way to “stay together” while we stayed apart – a phrase we are all too familiar with at this point. This encouragement, support, and celebration of the team’s work gave an over-arching view of the impact we were having on the sector and lifted the group’s morale.

It is no surprise the biggest test of adaptability came in the form of the pandemic. For many of us, it is the largest change we have ever faced and continues to test each of us in different ways. As the leader of a growing team, Alison quickly took action to make sure the staff had the resources they needed to feel safe “at work”. For Vantage Point, this meant moving everyone from an office space which promoted social connections and quick collaboration to remote and isolated work. And yet, Alison maintained a certain level of social connection and collaboration throughout the team by implementing the necessary technology and experimenting with different ways to communicate with each other until we found a system that worked.

Working from home presents natural challenges, but Alison’s spirit of abundance allowed team members to attend meetings as they are and encouraged us to take care of ourselves so we could take care of our communities.

Collaboration

Solutions Focused | Accountability + Follow-through | Open, Timely, Straightforward Communications

Alison prioritized strong relationships with other organizations and stakeholders – not only during the pandemic (which were essential in our ability to deliver our services and opportunities), but throughout her entire time as Executive Director. We are incredibly grateful for these relationships and recognize many of them are due to Alison’s obvious care for making positive change in the sector.

Alison worked closely with partners and funders on several successful initiatives. This includes two reports on the impacts of COVID-19 on BC’s not-for-profit sector. We were able to see tangible data on the current state of the sector and, through this, identify opportunities for the sector and government to support the sustainability of not-for-profit and charitable organizations.

Alison recognized the potential to completely reframe our relationship with our members – as collaborators. Alison’s vision for amplifying the voice of the sector through the power of convening as member organizations and sector leaders, is the foundation of our Membership.

In this work, Alison built a strategic partnership with Propellus’ Volunteer Connector to update GoVolunteer. Originally a platform launched in the early 2000’s for organizations to post volunteer opportunities, GoVolunteer merged with Propellus’ Volunteer Connector thanks to Alison’s ability to bring people and initiatives together. GoVolunteer remains a resource hub for BC organizations and volunteers, while the capabilities of Volunteer Connector create additional opportunities.

Curiosity

Research + Ask Questions | Personal + Professional Growth | Open-minded

Alison’s curiosity and dedication to learning is a key component in her work to identify what people and organizations need when shaping our services over the past few years. Alison’s instinct to ask “What if?” at each turn encouraged the team to be open-minded towards the possibilities of what we could achieve. Alison’s impact is demonstrated in the numerous Sector Development campaign achievements, calling on government to act in support of the sector.

Alison’s deep social justice roots and commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, propelled individual and team learning in Indigenous cultural competence, decolonizing practices, and anti-oppression understanding. We have each moved along in our journey in learning what it means to individually be anti-racist and contribute to building an anti-racist organization.

Fun

Laughter + Joy | Playful | Team Gatherings

Finally, our team value of fun showed up in Alison’s dedication to our weekly happy half hours every Thursday, her ability to see the humour in challenges, and her desire to celebrate and recognize team members for their work.

Alison, you truly transformed Vantage Point and we will carry your vision forward with care. We wish you all the best as you adapt to new grand adventures with a curious and collaborative approach, and the ability to find abundance, humour, and fun wherever you go.

All our best,

Your Vantage Point team.

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Vantage Point

We are a team of passionate and dedicated not-for-profit professionals dedicated to providing not-for-profits with high quality leadership training. We are here to set you up for success. Learn more about our team at www.thevantagepoint.ca/about/our-people/

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“Disabling” Communications – Rowan King

Welcome to the New Vantage Point Website!

Welcome to the New Vantage Point Website!

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After months of planning, we are excited to announce the launch of our new website! Our goal for this platform is to provide a fresh, clean user interface and an improved navigation system which allows visitors and members to easily search and view our workshops and sector services that we offer at Vantage Point.

One useful feature we improved on the website was the ability to search and sort through our media content, including: blogs, podcasts, and downloadable resources. Now, you can more easily search for specific posts and resources using the dedicated search bar and filter results based on categories such as audience, topic, relevance and more.

Another feature we improved on the Vantage Point site is the Events Calendar. The Calendar (found under the training menu) displays all our upcoming workshops and labs. You can also change how the events are displayed by selecting “List,” “Month,” or “Day” in the top right corner.

We’re extremely excited to share this new site with you and hope it improves your experience with our resources, services, and all Vantage Point has to offer. A huge thank you goes to Dillon Dhak, our Digital Intern who spent a great deal of time and effort making this happen (not to mention, the many others who offered their time and support). We look forward to continually improving this site for you and our other community members.

As an added bonus, you can head over to govolunteer.ca to see the latest developments with the platform!

Shagun Bhanot headshot

Author

Arron Fucoy

Arron Fucoy is our Tech Intern, who assesses Vantage Point’s technology needs and researches potentially useful software for the team. He brings his resourcefulness, organizational and time management skills, and friendly personality to the team. Arron is at the start of his career after an education in IT at Kwantlen Polytechnic, and completing a Web Tech certificate at BCIT.

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