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Farewell from Leslie Josling

posted by Leslie Josling

Leading up to my departure from KW Counselling Services (KWCS), I’ve been clearing out the massive filling cabinets in my office. They are full, not only of memories of my time here, but also of documents dating back to 1950, created under three executive directors over the course of almost 70 years.  This exercise offers fertile ground for reflection and meaning making, as I weigh in on which documents created by Alvis Stayt, Bernard Porlier, and myself are still worth keeping.  This has given me a chance to reflect on our legacy and our place in history; which of our actions as leaders stands the test of time? When future executive directors are cleaning out the files from 2006-2018, decades from now, how will they view our efforts? Will they be struck by how much has remained the same?  Will they be impressed by our clinical interventions, parenting education, and community development? Or will they be dismayed at our limited understanding of brain science, mental health treatment and inclusivity? What, if anything, will inspire and give them a sense of purpose? 

 

 

What I have found in looking back is that my predecessors, although operating in a different social context with different norms and values, were remarkable, visionary, and enthusiastic about their work and community. They were bold and frequently spoke truths about relationships and belonging that were well ahead of their time.   I was immensely fortunate to find myself in this community, and inherit their foundation to build on.   I have a favourite quote from Alvis, which exemplifies this.  It is found in the 1956 board minutes and is the underpinning of everything we stand for today:

“I am glad to be able to report that we have given service even if only in small measure, to refugees in this World Refugee Year, so designated by the U.N…. We are proud to serve the refugees, the displaced persons, the New Canadians, and the Canadian born and bred.  Canada needs people. Where there are people there are problems and the service of our Agency is free to all regardless of race, colour, creed or economic status.“

When I arrived at KWCS, I was presented with well-established individual, couple and family therapy programs, a long tradition of parenting education, and some newer one-of-a-kind programs.  Bernard had a knack for identifying needs that others hadn’t yet noticed, and designing programs, such as the fledgling OK2BME and multicultural programs, in response.  I was also handed the keys to a beautiful, brand new building, designed with our clients’ needs in mind!

I also encountered an engaged and diverse board of directors.  They encouraged me to articulate a vision with them, grow in the new role, and make service improvements for our clients and community.  From the very beginning, they always let me know they were playing in my court.

I also was met by community leaders who were (and are) eager to share ideas and work together. Conversations and partnerships with these leaders made space for us to keep refining our approaches through the exchange and building of ideas.  As a result, our programs went through numerous iterations, as we reworked the content to reflect our growing understanding of attachment.  No corner of the agency was left untouched; parenting education, family, individual and couple therapy, violence against women counselling, multicultural programming, and our OK2BME program. Knowing this, as I leave, makes me very confident, proud and happy. 

Some of the managers I met when I first arrived are now in senior leadership roles. These remarkable, skilled professionals, indeed all of our directors and staff, have demanded that we continually scrutinize our practice to ensure that our values are aligned across all we do.   They have challenged repeatedly my assumptions and approaches. Their way of being in the world has become part the tapestry of this community and I am forever changed for the better because of who they are.  Indeed, I believe that the essence of who they are will be expressed and perpetuated through my work at the Family Counselling Centre of Brant.

I leave KWCS confident in its future knowing that it is in the hands of good stewards.   KWCS is a fine catch for a new leader and I am eager to see the agency thrive under new leadership in the future.  In the meantime, thanks to our current board, especially Paul Rossi, our president, for his leadership during the transition.  Thanks also to Diane McGregor and Noel Blake who will step in as interim co-executive directors until the new ED is recruited. I also want to acknowledge Scott Williams. If he were not on the team, KWCS would simply not be what it has become today.

Finally, I want to acknowledge and thank my three children. When I began at KWCS, my children were little. They are now successful young adults! They, quite simply put, are the reason I do this work. 

As a gift to the agency, I am pleased to leave a new mural for the foyer. I hope it gives a welcoming message of encouragement to all who enter.

 

Change is always possible when relationships are enhanced.

Dedicated to the staff, board, students, and volunteers of KW Counselling Services who inspire positive relationships as the foundation of a caring community where no one is left behind.

With warm regards,

 

Leslie Josling

Executive Director (2006-2018)