Even though we knew it was coming, the February 10th announcement by the JW McConnell Family Foundation that Tim Brodhead is stepping away as President and CEO startles. The short announcement in the Foundation's monthly e-news was likely influenced by Tim's modesty and aversion to being the centre of attention and wanting to shine the spotlight on his successor Stephen Huddart. And Stephen does deserves our hearty congratulations. He's a long standing change maker.
However, he would be the first to agree that Tim deserves a lengthy period of tribute, acknowledgement and gratitude. If you care about the health of the arts in Canada, particularly in our schools; the role of people with disabilities as contributing citizens; infusing progressive ideas into our education systems; cultivating our underlying societal values ; preserving our forests; the financial well being of the social sector; nurturing youth leadership; the role of universities in our communities; unleashing the creativity of Canadians; supporting family care givers; reducing poverty; or attending to those who are vulnerable to stereotypes, low expectations, and neglect then you have been touched by Tim's leadership at McConnell.
There is hardly a progressive, creative initiative in the last 15 years to tackle our tough stubborn problems that hasn't been initiated, boosted or accelerated by strategic financial, moral and technical support from McConnell. And often with Tim's personal involvement.
Canada is more resilient and less vulnerable because of Tim. Do let him know your appreciation. Here's the link to his e-mail address. He'll squirm a little and mention his Board, the team, their partners. And that's true. But there wouldn't be a team or the many partnerships, or the many successes without him.
There are two consolations in this announcement:
One, the Foundation is in good hands with Lyn Baptist, chairing an informed and engaged Board and Stephen as the next President and CEO. Stephen has been with the Foundation since 2003 and is not only integral to the Foundation's recent achievements but brings a perspective and background that can only enhance its trajectory. More on the former Raffi colleague, jazz restaurateur and non profit leader in a future essay.
Two, Tim may be stepping away from the day to day responsibilities but his commitment to economic and social justice burns brighter than ever. I suspect a continued advisory role with the Foundation and new but related involvements. We can certainly count on him speaking and writing more, so we won't lose his thought leadership.
In the meantime let us pause and celebrate this important transition for Tim, McConnell and Canada.