New Interim Director for CEDSAC Hired!
We are pleased to welcome Steven Johnston as the new Interim Director for CEDSAC! Steven comes to the role with plenty of relative experience in developing community led programs, creating long-term partnerships, and understanding the concepts and complexities of community economic development work.
Before coming to Vancouver, Steven had worked in Toronto with Dixon Hall, an integrated social services provider for at risk residents of Regent Park and surrounding neighbourhoods, as the Senior Director of Development. Steven successfully developed and implemented an annual fundraising plan and played a key role in supporting the growth of the organization by merging with Mid-Toronto Community Services, which significantly increased both the operating budget and staff resources.
While in Toronto, Steven also took on a leadership role organizing the Waterfront Toronto Employment Initiative, an organization dedicated to creating employment opportunities for low-income residents.
Most recently, Steven has worked as the Executive Director for Tradeworks Training Society in the Downtown Eastside. From this experience he has come to understand and know the community of the Downtown Eastside and the complexities of the neighbourhood. He had successfully developed partnerships with other nonprofits and community organizations such as the Bloom Group and the Women’s Health Collective in order to enhance the support services that Tradeworks could make available to their program participants.
Steven has also been a committee member with CEDSAC since the committee was first organized in February 2016, and has a strong understanding of the values the committee holds and helped to develop the strategies that the committee has put forward and is now implementing.
Steven is excited to be joining CEDSAC as the Interim Director and believes that it allows him the opportunity to further the growth of a community led organization that can positively impact the Downtown Eastside.
A Q&A with Steven:
What drew you to the role of Interim Director at CEDSAC?
I’ve always been interested in developing partnerships, collaborating with others and engaging all stakeholders to create stronger and more inclusive communities. I believe this spirit of cooperation and commitment to community economic development is what drives CEDSAC. It’s exciting for me to be part of this nascent movement that’s dedicated to working more effectively and in unison to create positive change in the DTES.
What are your top goals for CEDSAC for your initial 9-month contract?
I have three key priorities that will guide my work over the next nine months; creating an organizational and governance model for CEDSAC, securing core funding to ensure the organization is sustainable through 2018 and beyond, and monitoring and supporting the current projects CEDSAC has initiated. Of course, underpinning all my work is a commitment to work closely with the local community to better understand and capture what type of an organization they think CEDSAC should be and what CEDSAC should focus on.
How will you ensure that CEDSAC remains inclusive of local low-income residents in its governance structure?
I think it’s essential to be inclusive of all residents as CEDSAC develops its governance structure. The organization will actively look to develop the leadership capacity of low-income residents by identifying opportunities for residents to actively engage in CEDSAC’s work and fill positions on the interim executive committee and working groups. As the structure of CEDSAC develops moving forward, primacy will be given to identifying and creating opportunities for low-income residents to fill governance positions that will guide CEDSAC’s work and ensure their voices are heard and respected.
Also over the next nine months I’ll be engaging extensively with residents to help me determine what type of organization CEDSAC should become, where it’s focus should be, and most importantly, what the values will be that become the organizations cornerstone.
What are the areas of greatest opportunity for CEDSAC?
CEDSAC has the opportunity to be a driver of positive change in the DTES. Harnessing the collective power of over 30 organizations, resident groups and other stakeholders, CEDSAC can help shape and drive policy that collectively builds a more vibrant and inclusive local economy.
Specifically, CEDSAC is working to identify ways that community benefit agreements can be structured to identify employment and procurement opportunities for local residents and social enterprises. In addition, CEDSAC working groups are focused on issues of retail gentrification and social inclusion, identifying and supporting the needs of low-income entrepreneurs, and developing organizational capacity and collaboration.
Harnessing the power of collective impact means CEDSAC can create meaningful change in all these areas.
What challenges is CEDSAC up against? What are the risks that you can see?
The initial primary challenge CEDSAC faces is securing core funding to ensure its long-term sustainability. CEDSAC appreciates the support the City of Vancouver has provided and will look to leverage the City’s commitment with potential funders to secure its future. Other challenges include ensuring the organization continues to have a voice as policy is created and implemented and that the needs and wishes of low-income residents are respected and prioritized as the DTES continues to develop.
Tell us one thing about yourself, that isn’t immediately obvious!
I’m an avid cyclist in the summer and skier in the winter. I love the mountains and all the outdoor opportunities this province presents!
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