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I am committed to making this blog a habit and priority. The month went by so fast! The clock is really ticking towards my mat leave and I am so excited that things are FINALLY moving forward.

The first BIG piece of news is that we officially have a Program Manager for The Stories of Us and we have signed our contract with the government to start the work!

Since the last time I wrote, we have been diligently working to get all the details of our contract in order. We had to submit revised action plans, budgets, get a bookkeeper, and get through their risk assessment process. It was a lot of back and forth, so we are extremely excited to be past this administrative phase and down to implementing the project.

The first step was getting the right person hired to take on this project. I’ll admit when we first put out the job posting, I was a bit nervous about who would apply and if we would be able to find someone to fit our timeline and criteria. We were blown away by the overwhelming response to the job posting – over 50 applicants. Blair and I went to work reviewing resumes and cover letters. Applicants were encouraged to demonstrate imagination through their applications and we got so many great creative approaches, including personal narratives, a mock letter to the Minister, audio clips, videos and hand-drawn CVs.

Prepared for a day of interviews!

We went over each application meticulously. I created a rubric to rank candidates based on our top criteria. We whittled down the initial 50+ applications to 20 or so that caught our eye and then voted on our top 5 picks providing us with a short-list. We reviewed that list and evaluated candidates based on if they had lived experience as a newcomer, if they had worked with settlement organizations/ESL programming, community or non-profit experience, facilitation, project management, event logistics, speak or write in any additional languages, and if they demonstrated creativity in their application.

We interviewed 6 amazing candidates. I was so excited to get to meet and chat with the people who had applied for the Program Manager position. In preparing for the interviews, I wanted to make sure we could actually see how each candidate would approach navigating the ambiguity but also specifics of this project. We have very specific outcomes/outputs that we are accountable for to the government but how we get there is up to us. I often find that answering typical interview questions doesn’t always get me to the heart of what we really need to know to make a decision about how well a person can do the job. With that in mind we asked each candidate to bring a presentation of the first steps they would take if given this job. It really helped us to see how someone approaches a task, explains their process, and asks clarifying questions.

Blair totally exhausted at the end of a day of interviews.

Throughout the day we continued to rank and re-rank the candidates. Each one brought something different to the table. It was not an easy decision. A week later we had our final pick and made an offer.

Drum roll please …

We officially welcomed Mitra to our team on August 15! Check out the blog introducing her and her bio on our Team page.

Over the next few weeks Mitra and I will be doing a bunch of onboarding and getting her up to speed on what we have been working towards with The Stories of Us. I have less than a month to go, but I am completely confident that I will be leaving The Stories of Us in Blair and Mitra’s capable hands while I go on mat leave.

Next Steps for us: 

  • building a database of settlement/ESL organizations
  • getting acquainted with all the accountability and reporting responsibilities of our fund
  • reviewing and designing our implementation plan for The Stories of Us

Next Steps for me: 

  • get Mitra set up for success for the coming months
  • prepare our developmental evaluation processes and templates to be used in our learning reports
  • do less so that I am not needed while I am mat leave

My plan is to do one more of these blogs before I leave and then it will be up to Blair and Mitra to take over.

Till next time,

Jenn

Jennifer Chan

Jenn has been working with nonprofits and communities for over 10 years guiding design thinking and strategic foresight processes. Jenn believes in facilitating conversations lead by the community to find pain points that drive and ground new ideas.

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