Dear community foundation friends and partners,

Nearly ten years ago I was invited by the CFC board to provide some leadership for the community foundation movement and accepted the role of President and CEO. My first day on the job was the opening day of our 2011 Conference in Vancouver. I remember the speaker lineup included our then-Governor General David Johnston who spoke about community building and collective action as well as Naomi Tutu who called on all of us to make a commitment to justice over charity and solidarity before philanthropy. 

Looking back on the past decade I can see that, when taken together, those two speakers captured the spirit of the movement in almost every respect. The commitment we feel to community is at the core of all that we do. At the same time, we are challenged to ensure that we stand with others in the community in the pursuit of equity and right relations. Mobilizing the community as it is while imagining the community as it could be.

It’s been the most remarkable journey for me ever since that day.

You have welcomed me into hundreds of homes, community halls and circles of elders. Into churches and mosques as well as arenas and theatres. Out into nature on both the warmest and coldest days of the year. Across oceans for summits and exchanges. And almost always with a requisite dose of humility and care. We have spoken about the day-to-day challenges of community foundation life and hosted some of the most inspired conversations about our potential for both conserving what is good and changing what is not. Best of all, we took on the task of not always agreeing and often debating and sometimes persisting in our different points of view. I’ve come to see that this is part of what makes Canada such a unique place — so generous and respectful and complementary but also inequitable and disjointed and in-the-making. Canada is a negotiated country and, thankfully, the work is underway to bring more and more people around that negotiation table in a meaningful way. With this in mind, it is remarkable that a movement of community foundations from across the land with a focus on belonging has come together in a place like Canada. And that’s to your credit — thank you!

My next steps

In the new year, I’m going to be moving on from my role at CFC and all of this good work.

“I know that this is the right time for me to start a new chapter and to explore what that might entail. It’s also an opportune time for Andrew and the CFC board to reflect on the leadership requirements of the future and to mobilize around our refreshed purpose with new voices too.”

There is much to do in both the short and the long term as learned at our recent conference in Victoria — there always is! And I know that the team and Board at CFC, with the movement and our partners, are more than ready for what lies ahead. 

In a few days, our board chair Bill Lockington will be following up with a letter outlining the process which the Board and management team are working on through the transition period this fall. A task force has been at work for a number of weeks, led by our vice-chair Rasool Rayani. The task force’s role is to facilitate the board and management’s joint reflections and help inform CFC’s leadership structure for the future. 

For my part, I’ll be available as and when appropriate throughout this period to facilitate and support Andrew and the CFC team, and the Board, as they plan for the future.

Thank you all for the care and support for me and my family over these years. And a special note of thanks to the passionate staff team at CFC who bring all that they’ve got to our work — truly inspiring. I’m looking forward to upcoming opportunities to convey my gratitude in person with all of you and to reflect on the fun we’ve had along the way. 

With best wishes,

Ian Bird