With the retirement of MFRC executive director Gaynor Jackson in June, Jackie Carlé took over as interim executive director. We caught up her to talk about the transition and the way ahead.
What experience do you bring to the role of executive director?
I have spent the past 23 years working for military families in a variety of roles. Sometimes that has meant working at individual Military Family Resource Centres and sometimes at the national level with Military Family Services. I have had experience working with non-profits and with board of directors. In the past year, I have also had the opportunity to be acting executive director here in Esquimalt during a few leave of absences.
How long have you been with the Esquimalt MFRC?
While with Military Family Services, I was the field operations manager. It took me to every MFRC and I knew that this MFRC was one that I could align with. Four years ago, I did a short-term project to review the MFRC’s core services and to help create an outcomes-based evaluation process for our services. I officially joined the MFRC as community engagement manager in April of 2014.
What is it like to replace someone that has been in the position for close to 20 years?
It’s a privilege to come into an organization that has had such longevity in leadership and staff as well. I have known Gaynor professionally for the past 12 years. I think we complemented each other really well and made a good team. I worked closely with her the past three years. Filling in for her a couple of times in the past year has helped with the transition. It creates security and a secure vision ahead. I know the system and understand Military Family Services really well. It helps to have that context in this time of change.
What has it been like so far?
It is business as usual here at the MFRC. We have really talented, professional staff. We are very engaged with our work. It is a high operational tempo and work is continuing at that same high level.
What is the plan with the Executive Director position?
I was hired as interim executive director for six months with the possibility of an extension. The timing of the hiring process will be contingent on the governance review.
How does the governance review impact the search for a new executive director?
Our parent organization, Military Family Services, are doing a governance review for all Military Family Resource Centres. Right now, they are trying to determine if it is still appropriate to continue with the not-for-profit structure or if there are alternate governance models that work better in the future. The thought at our MFRC was that it was unfair to bring someone new to a system that is evolving. A change in governance is a big deal and it is unfair for a new executive director to start a job before those details are figured out.
What is the process going forward?
From September 21st to the 25th, two board members and executive directors from each MFRC will meet in Toronto. Five governance models will be discussed. The attendees will vote to determine the top two options. At some point over the following months, the Chief of Defence Staff will decide on one of those two options. By the end of September, we will know the lay of the land and can hire with that information in mind.
What if you don’t have enough information to make a decision at that time?
If that is the case, there is an option to extend my contract and conduct the hiring process at a later date.
When it comes to hiring, what are the next steps?
At the Esquimalt MFRC, we have a very strong board of directors. This is an opportunity for us to stop and think in case this review takes MFRCs in a new direction. Throughout the process, there will be a transition committee that includes Leanne Kopp (former board chair at the Esquimalt MFRC and current executive director of The Prostate Centre), Denise Lloyd (from Engaged HR) and four current board members. The position will be posted and there will be a robust hiring process to see who is out there and who is interested in this position.