Dear Colleagues, partners and friends,

By now you will have received Ian Bird’s thoughtful letter sharing that he will be leaving CFC early in 2020. The community foundation movement in Canada has been most fortunate to experience Ian’s leadership over the past nine years. For those of us who have shared many of those years with him, we have seen transformational growth and change in both CFC and the network under his stewardship, guidance and vision.

All for community: the many legacies

Ian’s legacies at CFC are numerous. They include our strengthened ties with the international community foundations network, the establishment of Rideau Hall Foundation, the conception of the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th, the Welcome Fund for Syrian Refugees and last but not least, a strong call to action around the concept of “belonging” across the “191”. Ian’s innate gifts for storytelling will stay with many of us, as will some of his memorable sayings such as “one foot in the canoe” and “from music school to symphony”, to name but two.

Perhaps his most significant legacy however, is the executive leadership and staff team he has helped to build at CFC, who continue to daily reflect the culture and values of CFC, a mirror and expression of his leadership style, principles and values. As a mentor, collaborator, confidante and wise colleague, believing a sharing of leadership is a preferable model, Ian has, over his tenure, inspired and significantly contributed to the personal growth and accomplishments of many individuals who today, lead within CFC or elsewhere in the Canadian philanthropic and not for profit sector. His commitment to encourage and share leadership as well as success, and, as the saying goes, “lead from behind”, is an enduring hallmark of the culture he fostered.

As much as we will miss daily contact with Ian and all he has meant to CFC, I suspect he will never be far away from our thoughts and affection. CFC and the movement will continue to prosper and build community, the beneficiary of a remarkable nine years of committed and dedicated leadership. For this we are most grateful.

Next steps: guiding the transition 

While it is a truism the leadership of all organizations will change at some time, when the reality sets in, we all know it can sometimes be challenging. That said, we also know that transition, whether individual or organizational, can create opportunity. In our case, it is an opportunity for CFC’s Board of Directors and senior leadership team to consider the most appropriate leadership model that will continue to serve CFC and the movement of community foundations going forward. 

Through discussions with staff, community foundations, partners and stakeholders, this transition provides an occasion for our Board and others to collectively identify and prioritize the needs of the organization for the future. Fortunately, the CFC Board is well served by the shared co-executive leadership model first brought to CFC three years ago by Ian and Andrew, a model which now permeates and is a characteristic of our board and committee work. Because of this, we are a board considering transition, not succession, comfortable in the knowledge we are well served by our co-leadership model and the individuals who lead it. 

The Board is undertaking an exercise in due diligence around the transition needs which are occasioned by Ian’s leaving. A task group of directors, led by our Vice-Chair, Rasool Rayani, has been formed to guide the process of Board reflection which will involve consultations with community foundations, CFC staff, stakeholders and partners among others. The task group’s work will be facilitated by an external governance consultancy retained for this exercise, and conducted in dialogue with CFC’s senior leadership. Through a comprehensive survey and individual discussions, the Board will continue to learn, consider best practice and relevant frameworks, all the while recognizing the uniqueness of CFC and the individual leaders who so capably undertake the work of CFC. In the context of the purpose statement and the strategic directions recently adopted by CFC, the review process, although Board directed, will engage senior leadership to ensure the ideas and any decisions benefit from the experience and view of all. We expect to have this work completed by November 1 of this year.

We look forward to the next few months working with Ian, Andrew and our executive team to support the transition of our CFC leadership. Your continuing interest and perspectives are highly-valued and we welcome your communication with us at any time.

With my kind regards,

Bill Lockington, Chair,
CFC Board of Directors