CEO for a day

Wood's Homes, Parkdale

Esther By Esther Groen, Foster Care Support Worker – Wood’s Homes

Ever wonder what it’s like to run an organization with 400 staff and 35 programs in 6 locations?

Ask me – I was the lucky winner of a staff contest and got to spend the day with our CEO Dr. Jane Matheson!

On January 27, bright and early in the morning, myself and another winner, Amanda Starchuk (Program Supervisor of the new Youth Community Program) had the privilege of being CEO for a day and spent the next 12 hours learning a little bit about what it takes to run this large and complex agency.

Getting well-acquainted with the political realm

Our day started with a Strategic Initiatives Board Meeting at Parkdale where we learned about what Wood’s Homes is doing to promote our work and programs within the political community. As a frontline staff member, it was fascinating to see the behind the scenes work that goes into keeping Wood’s Homes in the mind of the community especially in the ever shifting universe of politics.

The tough conversations

Next up, we headed over to the Bowness Campus to the monthly manager’s meeting where we were able to watch Jane facilitate a discussion about ethical dilemmas. It was interesting to hear the perspectives of different managers and directors and to present our own ethical dilemmas to the group for discussion.

A quick lunch!

We got a quick bite to eat – and I was hungry at this point! Some of the most interesting parts of the day were listening to Jane’s stories and ideas about Wood’s Homes and how it has come to be what it is today. Jane personally facilitates a culture of honesty and inclusion and had many stories about the types of people that fit Wood’s Homes values.

Planning 6-months ahead is key

After lunch we attended the George Wood Learning Centre’s Celebration of Learning where we got to celebrate the success of the students attending the school. After some quick introductions we were back to another meeting with the admin group where we reviewed the next six months of Jane’s calendar (hint: you better book her far in advance!) as well as received updates from the various locations of our agency.

Collaborating with Board members

Our next meeting was with Eric Axford, Chair of the Board, to prepare for the board meeting later in the evening. Eric comes from a vastly different corporate world but he enjoys contributing his business knowledge to help a worthy cause.

He has been involved for a number of years and continues to volunteer significant time and effort to help the board run effectively and efficiently. After this meeting we were able to attend the Board Meeting.

We viewed a presentation from Jon Reeves, Director of Child and Family Service for the Calgary Region and witnessed votes for approval for new and improved policies and procedures (with a few changes here and there).

Board meetings are another world that I haven’t encountered before and it’s an interesting process that occurs to manage items that as front-line staff we likely take for granted, such as updating important policies that guide our work.

And the best part?

The most special part of the day for me was being able to spend time with Jane and get to know her as a person as well as the figurehead of our agency. I’ve worked for other nonprofit organizations and have never heard of an opportunity like this, we’re very fortunate to have a CEO who values time with staff and encourages the transparency of having us attend a multitude of important meetings!

What I learned…

A lot of work goes into running an organization like Wood’s Homes, much of it on the front lines but a huge amount that we likely don’t ever consider.

I want to thank Jane, the managers and directors, and the board for the opportunity to live in your world for a day.

What job at Wood’s Homes do you think would be interesting to shadow? Comment below!

For more information on Wood’s Homes click here.


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