Update from our Board President Calla Barnett

After nearly two years serving as Board President of CCGSD, I would like to take this opportunity to take stock and reflect on the organizational challenges we have faced and the work the staff, management, board and volunteers have done to respond since the beginning of my tenure.

We are a constantly evolving and responding to positive and negative feedback brought forward by former and current board members and staff, as well as members of our community. We are proud of the changes and would like to share some of those challenges and their solutions with you.

Anyone who has felt harmed by the organization or our actions, is encouraged to take part in our accountability process. This can involve filling out our Feedback Tool: Openness, Transparency, and Accountability.  This tool can can be submitted anonymously or not, and will lead to an immediate review and then public response to you concern, within no more than 6 months.

As part of this tool, we are happy to work with Community Mediation Ottawa to offer mediated conversations between interested parties.In the interest of community accountability, any member of CCGSD staff including the Executive Director, will work with members of the community to schedule conflict mediation sessions. The CCGSD will cover the costs associated with these sessions, including mediation, travel, and participatory honorarium.

If this is of interest, please get in touch with our Board President Calla at Calla@ccgsd-ccdgs.org

Challenges and Solutions:

  • Challenge: The organization’s policies and bylaw were not appropriate. There were no formal policies implemented and the bylaw allowed for power to be concentrated with a single individual.
    • Solution 1: We have developed and implemented governance, human resources, and duty of care policies, either in full or in draft and continue to work to ensure further governance oversight.
    • Solution 2: We have revised our Bylaw. The membership structure of the organization has changed so that board members are also members of the corporation. The power to appoint and remove directors now rests with both the Founder and the current board directors.
    • Solution 3: A Policy and Bylaw committee has be created that includes 2 Board Members, the Executive Director and a volunteer staff member.
    • See the changes here.
  • Challenge: There was a serious lack of oversight, accountability and support for management
    • Solution 1: We have expanded the management team. This includes an Office Manager whose primary role is to create a positive workplace culture.
    • Solution 2: The new policies provide guidance for management
    • Solution 3: The Executive Director is fully accountable to the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors.
    • Solution 4: The Executive Director reports directly to the President of the Board. They receive coaching and support from her on a nearly daily basis.
    • Solution 5:  The Executive Director has received support and professional development from other non-profit managers in the Ottawa region.  
    • Solution 6: The Executive Director, as well as other members of the management team, will receive annual professional development in areas they deem important, including: effective communication, leadership, and human resource management.
    • Solution 7: The new feedback process: We have also implemented our official feedback form, which is anonymous and open to the public. We hope this process will allow for community critique and voices to be engaged within a collaborative process. We commit to publishing those critiques and solutions implemented, within a six month cycle.
  • Challenge: Staff compensation was negotiated on an individual basis and set based on the experience of the candidate and available organizational funding. Raises were given on an ad-hoc basis and this created an uncertain working environment for CCGSD staff.
    • Solution 1: We have implemented a permanent and consistent pay scale system, based on unionized workplace, that is based on positions and that provides a living wage as well as a cost of living increase for our staff on an annual basis.
  • Challenge: The Office culture was not conducive to the social justice values we hold as an organization which lead to a lack of trust between coordination/administration staff and management, insufficient autonomy, and staff input and innovation.
    • Solution 1: Increased transparency within the organization, a formal process for scheduling meetings between management and staff, and measurable performance objectives.
    • Solution 2: An increasing emphasis on professional development opportunities for CCGSD staff.
    • Solution 3:  Staff have more opportunities to come together as a group with management to discuss the workplace and do team building activities. This also includes bi-monthly staff meetings, and bi-monthly office culture meetings.
    • Solution 4:  Internal conflict resolution mechanisms are in place and continually reevaluated to ensure that we use social justice principles as the basis of our management technique.
    • Solution 5: Staff input in meeting agendas and the encouragement of innovation within programming, which includes more opportunities for program overlap and more CCGSD flagship programming throughout our provincial and national conferences.
    • Solution 6: A transparent disciplinary process has been implemented that ensures fairness and openness with all those involved.

 

These improvements are management and governance related and showcase how we have strengthened the organization as a over the last two years. We will continue to develop and implement new policies and procedures that support our growing organization.

In addition to these organizational changes, we have made some significant program changes. Theses include:

  • Challenge: While the programming we ran at Forums was solid, our coordination of Forums and Forums support was run by coordination staff who were overworked and engaging in coordination, programming, and support work.
    • Solution 1: Staff at Forums work in 8 hour day or night shifts, unless there are extenuating circumstances. They are coordinated by the Forum Program Coordinator responsible for that Forum, with the Office Manager and Executive Director following the lead of that Forum Program Coordinator.
    • Solution 2: We have hired external staff for participants who need support during forums. These are experienced professionals from outside the CCGSD who are better equipped to respond to the needs of our participants as they arise, and provide the required mental health and emotional support they need. They are hired externally and are onsite at all times, thus providing professional support services to participants who require them. CCGSD staff do not perform any substantive support at Forums.
    • Solution 3: We limit the number of students at  annual forums to ensure that a better experience is available for the participants.
  • Challenge: A stated need to increase our focus on  trans and non-binary issues, and the trans and non-binary members of our community, with a specific focus on transfeminine spectrum people.
    • Solution 1: The organization’s staff and board undertook transmisogyny training in an effort to better understand the experiences of transfeminine spectrum people and to increase awareness on how to focus on transfeminine spectrum people in our programming.
    • Solution 2: We have increased our efforts to hire trans and non-binary people within the organization and to seek  trans and non-binary Board members. While these efforts are not always successful, we reach out to different organization with networks of  trans and non-binary people who may be interested in the positions we have available.
    • Solution 3: We are developing guidebooks for trans and non-binary people across the country regarding the different provincial processes for changing names and gender makers are official identification documents. We have already posted such resources for the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. More are in the works.
    • Solution 4: We have partnered with Gowling WLG law firm to provide pro bono legal services to  trans and non-binary people who are embarking upon the journey to change their names and gender markers in Ontario. We hope to expand this programming in the future.
    • Solution 5: We are creating an online exhibit called Community Voices that will feature podcasts with all members of the LGBTQ2SIA community, as well as any background information on participants, videos, and blog posts. This exhibition tells the personal stories of our participants and includes transfeminine and transmasculine spectrum people. In fact, the creation of this is exhibit is in part due to our interactions and work with DJ Freedman, a transfeminine spectrum person who works with the Centre in various capacities as a consultant.
  • Challenge: Our programming does not always reach all Canadians
    • Solution 1: We are creating a new exhibition/community space and museum
    • Solution 2: Among other things, this new space will feature a two-spirit arts & crafts, healing space, a theatre, a rotating gallery, a permanent exhibition, and a studio.
    • Solution 3: The space will be replicable, which will allow educators from across the country to create their own mini museums in their space, using our resources. This will launch in April 2019. This project is really big, for more information, click here!

 

We have a lot of plans for the future as our organization continues to grow!

We have invested more info our staff by offering regular (monthly) training for staff and board, including communications training for everyone. We are also focusing on our management team and their specific needs by providing HR Management, Leadership and other training for them!

We have recruited new board members and we are excited to continue to grow our Board of Directors. With their support, we hope to begin a strategic planning project in the spring/summer of 2019! Plus, we are reconstituting our Advisory Committee to make it more manageable, but also to ensure that they play a larger role in the direction of the organization.

We have been working hard! And we can and will do more. I am available to community members who would like to discuss the organization and what is needed in the community, or who need referrals to any services. (We are national, but we can help you find what you need in your area). We are here to do what is needed to strengthen and advocate for all LGBTQ2SIA people. We are not perfect, but we will work hard for you and try to meet your needs to the best of our ability. Please reach out to me at calla@ccgsd-ccdgs.org and I will respond.

Feel free to contact me with any questions about the content of this newsletter! I am so proud of what we have already accomplished and I am excited about what we can do in the next two years!

Sincerely,

Calla Barnett 
(pronouns: she, her)

Présidente du Conseil d’Administration | Board President
Le Centre canadien de la diversité des genres & de la sexualité |
The Canadian Centre for Gender  & Sexual Diversity
C304-440 rue Albert St, Ottawa, ON K1R 5B5 (territoire Algonquin Territory)