Lifelong Learning:

It’s Essential


Three impressions from my first week as executive director

Week one as the Literacy Council executive director was a whirlwind.

My first impression was gratitude.  I am thankful that the Council is a well-oiled machine with competent, dedicated staff members.  All the staff members, as well as contractors, know what they are doing and work incredibly hard from what I have observed so far.  They will carry on while I get myself up to speed.

I‘m also grateful that our former executive director, Helen Balanoff, will remain on staff to smooth the leadership transition and complete some key projects.  I have a steep learning curve to overcome and am pleased to know I have a safety net.   It shows me how much the board values its mission and staff that it’s drawing on both of us for several months so that programs and services to the people of the NWT are not interrupted and so I have Helen’s support and wisdom to draw on.

The second thing I noticed last week was the depth and quality of the work that the Council does in NWT communities.  I’m impressed with how our programs and projects involve so many communities in training and outreach opportunities.  This week we’re offering financial literacy training in Whatı̀.  Last week Helen was in Prince George with Emily Kudlak and Helen Kitekudlak, of Ulukhaktok, at the International Congress for Arctic Social Sciences.  I was hearing about the previous week’s experiences of two Jean Marie River family literacy workers who we sponsored to attend the National Family Literacy Conference as well as our Canada Learning Bond open house and the Aboriginal languages workshop.  Wow!  There’s a lot going on in this organization.

I met with some staff and with people external to the operation last week.  My third impression is optimism that what I have to offer to the Council will be useful to it as an organization and to the people it serves.  We work in an environment where budgets are tight or being cut and where there’s a focus on economic development, particularly in the non-renewable resource sector.  I’m hopeful that my expertise and background in community economic development will bring a perspective and energy that helps people to see the relevancy of literacy and lifelong learning. 

Speaking of learning, this job will certainly keep me learning for a long time to come.  Please feel free to email me at or give me a call with your advice, encouragement and ideas.  I hope to hear from many of you in the months ahead.

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