Dear extended COCo community,
It’s been a while! We wanted to share some news. As some of you know, there are some transitions on the staff team at COCo and we wanted to make sure you’re in the loop.
First we’re excited to let you know that COCo is expanding the executive leadership team, welcoming Janie Janvier as Executive Coordinator, Programs and Estelle Davis as Executive Coordinator, Operations. They will be part of a 3-person Leadership Circle alongside Naïma Phillips in the role of Executive Coordinator, Partnerships & Learning. This is the result of deep conversations between the staff and board to assess organizational and collective needs and work towards building more capacity on the team.
Janie worked on the affiliate team for a few years before joining the staff as atelier/C Coordinator in 2021. Through this role, Janie deepened collaborations mechanisms, strengthened the alignment between programming and anti-oppression values, and increased participation following two years of pandemic. Her thoughtful, human-centered approach along with extensive experience in project management, community building, evaluation, and leadership have earned the trust of the staff and board.
Estelle brings with her a compassionate leadership style as well as broad experience in human resources, finance, and operations as Executive Director at Maggie’s Toronto, one of the nation’s oldest sex worker justice organizations. In this role, she helped make many feel heard through her deep anchoring in anti-oppression, empathetic and direct approach to Human Resources, and ability to navigate complex systemic issues with grace and exceptional problem solving skills.
Naïma joined COCo in April 2021 as the Funding and Partnerships Coordinator, and has been in the role of Executive Coordinator since November 2021. Naïma brought over 15 years of experience in the cultural and nonprofit sector. Her skills as a strategic thinker and communicator, and her ability to approach complex issues with deep and nuanced commitment to equity, have helped to steer and steady COCo during a period of change and re-imagining. We are immensely grateful for Naïma’s visionary and grounded leadership.
Together, Janie, Estelle, and Naïma will collaborate to support staff in the fulfillment of their activities. They will shepherd collective conversations about future governance of the organization, furthering the embodiment of anti-oppressive values in our internal operations, and continuing to reinforce our operations and programs to better center the overall well-being of our team. We’re excited to work with them in the coming months to establish their collaboration with each other, the team, the board, and other members of COCo’s community.
In addition, we’d like to highlight other transitions on the team.
First, we wanted to highlight that Jeneffer Ndahayo joined the full-time staff team as Communications and Events Coordinator at the end of last year. In this role, she is in charge of managing COCo’s communications and co-managing the conception and dissemination of our organizational development tools and the production of training for change-makers. The communications role having been dormant for a couple years, Jeneffer is working with us to reevaluate and reboot COCo’s communications with the public. In recent years, Jeneffer supported the transition of 3 ateliers/C Coordinators and demonstrated leadership skills and a rare ability to meet organizational challenges with depth, grounding, and a systems thinking, human-centered approach.
We’re happy to share that Stella Scupal, who joined the team temporarily to replace Janie during her parental leave, is staying on as ateliers/C Coordinator. Over the past year Stella has made important contributions to the ateliers/C, deepening programming and collaborations with speakers and continuing to enhance the series’ alignment with anti-oppression practices and organizational health practices.
We’ll look forward to sharing more news for you in the coming month as new members join the team in August. As you may have seen, COCO is finishing up hiring processes for a Tech Coordinator and two Organizational Development and Training (ODT) Coordinators who will join Pascale Brunet. (Shout out to Pascale for her deep care work in this area!) With Janie’s new role as Executive Coordinator, Programs and the addition of a third ODT Coordinator, this also means more resources to support our core work, offering accompaniment, training, and tools to community groups, as well as increased support to our facilitation team.
We’d like to express our gratitude to Mich Spieler, Parker Mah, and Emilia Gonzalez who are transitioning from the staff to the affiliate team for their important contributions to COCo as well as the support they are providing in the transition and onboarding of new staff members.
- After several years on COCo’s staff team, Mich shifted from their role as Executive Co-Coordinator to the affiliate team of facilitators in April. We’d like to thank them for their invaluable contributions, in deepening our approach to tech accompaniments as Tech Coordinator and then helping bring more stability, transparency, and clarity in our finance and operations over the past year as part of the EC structure. Thank you, Mich, for the generosity with which you brought your many skills and competencies to COCo, and the complexities you helped to hold and guide us through.
- Parker’s departure after 8 years at COCo marks the turning of an important page in COCo’s history. We thank him for helping the organization through challenging years and his unwavering commitment to centring the needs of community groups in his work as Tech Coordinator and contributions to collective management. Thank you, Parker, for the patience, wisdom, care, and steadfastness that you brought to this work.
- Emilia arrived at COCo at a particularly complex time and contributed to developing processes and tools that helped reboot and reinforce our Organizational Development and Anti-Oppression services. In addition, she is appreciated for her facilitation skills grounded in her knowledge and appreciation of socio-cultural context as well as connection and presence. Emilia, thank you for your impactful contributions to collective management, tireless support of your teammates, and transformative work in ODT coordination.
We’d also like to thank current and former staff and affiliates for their contributions and tremendous efforts in recent years as COCo navigated challenges and worked to reinforce its operations following impacts related to organizational growth, the pandemic, and learnings from social movements.
We know there’s still work to be done, but we also want to celebrate the wins. Today, we’re happy to say that COCo is in a very different place than it was two years ago when the interim governance structure was established by the board as COCo experienced a period of major turnover. Work on reinforcing our operations and deepening our care practices has allowed the organization to work past the sustained crisis we experienced from 2020 to 2021, bringing more stability in our operations and more trust and fluidity in our exchanges.
As we grieve the past and welcome the future in this period of transitions, we find peace in the team’s ability to navigate these changes with more humility, authenticity, and organizational resilience. COCo continues to engage in the meaningful work of transformational change, as we work towards building more spaciousness within our organization. We are grateful to each and everyone of the members of the staff and affiliate teams for their contributions to bringing stability, holding important (often complex) conversations, and continuing to hold COCo to its commitment to keep evolving its practices, working to embody the organizational health practices it brings to other groups, and deepening its alignment of anti-oppression. We are also appreciative of our trusting relationships with partners that provide the resources needed to engage in this essential work.
We realize there have been some communications gaps with our extended community in the past few years. In the coming years, the team looks forward to strengthening our communications and following in COCo’s long standing tradition of sharing from its own learnings to nourish conversations, build space to connect, learn from each other, and build relations in the community sector.
Sara Kendall and Shawna Moore
From COCO’s Board