Leading Through Change

Wednesday, September 26, 2018


PLC’s 3rd Annual Nonprofit Leadership Conference, “Leading Through Change“, is now over!

Below you’ll find some of our learnings and reflections on the event. We’ve also left details regarding the event so you can learn about the kind of conferences and learning opportunities PLC offers. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter so you’ll be among the first to know details about our 4th Annual Nonprofit Leadership Conference in 2019!

Reflections on “Leading Through Change”

Leading Through Change, Peel Leadership Centre’s 3rd Annual Nonprofit Leadership Conference taught us all a lot about what it takes to lead through change effectively, compassionately and with consideration for the well-being of all; our staff, service-users, clients, funders and ourselves.

Upon reflection, we found that there were 4 key components of change that kept surfacing throughout the conference. These areas of our work are critical in leading an effective change process and in facing a changing world.

  • Culture
  • Communications
  • Strategy
  • Leading Self



Culture in our organizations doesn’t just ‘happen’. We all create the culture. And, as leaders, it is our responsibility to actively work to create and influence the best workplace culture because it, above all else, influences the work we produce. Though we may have a strategy in place and in action, if our organizational culture and embedded values do not support it, we will face challenges and obstacles in implementing it. This is especially critical during a change process because change itself is difficult to navigate. We need our teams and partners on board and working with us to see it through. Being active in culture creation in our workplaces means sharing stories with staff, demonstrating desired behaviours and actions and clearly communicating the values embraced by the organization.


Effective communications are also critical to the change process. Without them, change can be chaotic, confusing, intimidating and a cause for doubt. When we proactively commit to communicating throughout the process, we can subvert the uncertainty that is born out of rumours and guess-work. Communications help us build trust with staff, funders, service-users and stakeholders. Regular communications also help us to understand where folks are in our change process – are they keeping up? Do we need to slow down and spend more time bringing them on board? This can be learned through another critical communications skill: listening. As part of our broad people-skills, listening is also a very important element in a change process. Though we may be spearheading big change and trying to bring everyone along with us, listening can help us understand how we’re being understood, where we need to tweak and where we need to pay more attention.


When we embark on a change process, we usually have a strategy in place and ready to go that will guide us throughout. Sometimes, however, we may get too attached. We become so focussed on carrying it out that we miss opportunities and other paths that may bring us greater success. It’s important to have a strategy, but it’s equally important that we’re adaptable; that we ensure our leaders and organizations are agile enough to respond to opportunities that may present themselves to us. This may sound risky, but we can’t lead change and be risk-adverse. We must embrace flexibility and have patience with the process because there is always so much unpredictability in change that mistakes and opportunities for course correction are inevitable. If we’re ready for it then it won’t blow us too far off course.

Leading Self

Practicing empathy towards our staff and service-users is something we understand, work towards and embrace in the nonprofit sector. However, we may not always be directing our empathy towards ourselves. Allowing ourselves to ‘fail’, to give ourselves time off and to practice self-care are critical for nonprofit leaders, particularly in a change process. We are accountable to so many that it can wear on us over time. By ensuring we’re caring for ourselves we’re actually taking better care of our staff, service-users and other stakeholders. A mindfulness practice can be a part of our self-care routine; when we’re able to slow down and take time to practice mindfulness, it can help to make us more productive and focussed as leaders.

What were your main takeaways from “Leading Through Change”? We’d love to hear from you! Feel free to email us at info@peelleadershipentre.org.

We’d like to thank everyone who contributed to “Leading Through Change”

Keynote Speaker

Angela Robertson, Executive Director at Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre


Marcella Kowalchuk

Mary Ann Archer

Heather MacNeil

Jan Campbell


Beth Storti, Region of Peel

Ruth Crammond, United Way Greater Toronto

Beth Puddicombe, Ontario Trillium Foundation

We’d also like to that all of you who attended! A conference is only as great as the folks in the room, and you all made this a fantastic conference! So, THANK YOU!

Until next time,

The PLC Team


Leading Through Change – PLC’s 3rd Annual Nonprofit Leadership Conference

(Please note: This conference is now over. Below you’ll find the details about the event.)

Our organizations are experiencing increasing rates of change in funding, organizational structures, political priorities, collaborations, our communities and above all, the evolving landscape of the nonprofit sector itself. In order to support leaders like you, we’ve organized this conference with great workshops and a Keynote Speaker that will help you in not only surviving and managing change but thriving through change effectively.

Leading Through Change will feature:

  • An exciting Keynote Speaker
  • Your choice of one of three change-themed workshop options (see options below)
  • A Mindfulness Session
  • A Funders Panel Discussion, featuring senior leaders from The Region of Peel, Ontario Trillium Foundation, and The United Way Greater Toronto
  • The launch of PLC’s Executive Director’s Survey Report
  • PLC’s AGM

Download the agenda here! Leading Through Change – Agenda.

Keynote Speaker

We are very pleased to announce that this year’s Keynote Speaker is Angela Robertson, Executive Director of Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre. Angela recently led the merger of the former Parkdale and Queen West Community Health Centres to become Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre.

Angela is currently a Board member of Stephen Lewis Foundation and has been a volunteer and Board member of Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention and past Board member of Houselink Community Homes. Angela was honoured by York University in 2017 with an Honorary Doctorate of Law degree for her social justice work. She has also been recognized for her social change and justice work by the YWCA, Fred Victor Centre, Urban Alliance on Race Relations and NOW magazine.

To see Angela’s full bio, please click HERE.

Workshop Descriptions

At TIME OUT you can participate in one (1) of the following three (3) workshop options. Please be sure to select ONE workshop of your choice during registration.

Workshop #1

Title: The Human Resources Side of Change

Facilitator: Marcella Kowalchuk (See Marcella’s bio HERE.)

Description: In this interactive session, leaders will gain insight into the people-side of organizational change. Leaders will learn how to avoid common mistakes when going through the various phases of organizational change by applying human resources principles when making staffing decisions. The session will include discussion on compliance with the Employment Standards Act of Ontario and its amendments, the Ontario Human Rights Code, and management principles.

Key Learning Objectives:

  • Identify the common human resources mistakes made by non-profit organizations during periods of change
  • Identify the phases of organizational change
  • Discuss Ontario Human Rights Code considerations when contemplating change
  • The relevant employment legislation that impacts organizational change decisions including the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Employment Standards Act of Ontario and its recent amendments resulting from the Fair Workplaces Act, to name a few
Workshop #2

Title: Managing and Implementing Change

Facilitator: Heather MacNeil (see Heather’s bio HERE.)

Description: Change is Difficult. Everyone can agree on this. However, if change is managed well, then the issues often associated with change can disappear! This workshop will provide insight into the change process, the importance of proactively managing and planning for change, and the best practices and steps for successful implementation.  It will also address the importance of taking the time to monitor change as it is unfolding as well as different ways we can evaluate change.

Key Learning Objectives

  • Identify the 5 steps to managing change
  • Understand the importance of pro-actively planning for the change
  • Understand implementation strategies and tactics as part of an overall change plan
  • Understand the importance of monitoring and measuring the change itself and the impact to the stakeholders
Workshop #3

Title: Productive Conversations in a Change Process

Facilitator: Mary Ann Archer (See Mary Ann’s bio HERE.)

Description: What is the cost of silence to your organizational change efforts? Organizational culture tends to be firmly entrenched. If a new strategy or process is likely to threaten the status quo, the existing culture will likely win out over the change. It is only by paying attention and talking about it do we begin to see sustainable changes.

The unbundling of undiscussables is critical to shifting the way people work to improve the client experience. Yet the more undiscussables there are, the greater the likelihood that they won’t be raised, especially in front of managers. This provides for a very shaky foundation on which to build a change effort.

Imagine having productive conversations where real issues are surfaced, views are openly shared, assumptions are tested, effective decisions are made, and action is taken. Be prepared for difficult conversations; be prepared to ask the tough questions.

  • Turn difficult conversations and arguments into productive conversations
  • Learn how to get past the issues that are never talked about
  • Build a culture of accountability, collaboration and trust

In this session, you will be introduced to several practical models and processes. Areas of emphasis include “undiscussables”, assumptions and core skills.

Key Learning Objectives:

  • Learn how to get past the issues that are never talked about
  • Learn how to have open, honest and productive conversations at work, especially during a change process
  • Turn difficult conversations and arguments into productive conversations
  • Build a culture of accountability, collaboration and trust
  • Work with your own case study — a difficult conversation from your own workplace — and explore how it could be handled

Afternoon Activities

Mindfulness Exercise

After lunch, we’ll be regrouping for a session on mindfulness, facilitated by Jan Campbell (see Jan’s bio HERE). Mindfulness is the skill of being present and aware. This skill empowers a leader to stay focused and concentrate regardless of circumstances, as well as to remain calm in stressful situations. Mindfulness can be a strong anchor when dealing with periods of transition. Without denying the reality of change, mindfulness practices allow us to be present and allow us to access stability and clarity in the midst of uncertainty. This session will introduce leaders to the fundamentals of being a mindful leader through interactive discussions, a mindful exercise, and tips and tools to take away and apply in their daily interactions. With practice, leaders will learn how to manage stress, create calm, and become more focused and present in their daily interaction

Panel Discussion

We are very excited to share that PLC’s Panel Discussion will include senior leaders from The Region of Peel, Ontario Trillium Foundation, and The United Way Greater Toronto who will be discussing change from a funder’s perspective as well as sharing their views on how we can effectively lead through change in our organizations and at the sectoral level broadly. There will also be the opportunity for attendees to ask questions and engage with the funders at the event.

PLC’s Executive Director Survey Report Launch, 2018

PLC conducted the ED Survey in 2013 and in 2015 (you can find past reports HERE). This year, we’ll be launching the ED Survey Report for 2018. The past two surveys have revealed some interesting trends and patterns in leadership and the nonprofit sector in Peel and we are very much looking forward to sharing the findings for 2018!

PLC’s Annual General Meeting

We invite you to finish the day with us and join us for our AGM.

We look forward to seeing you at Leading Through Change!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at info@peelleadershipcentre.org


Click HERE to register for Leading Through Change

Download the Agenda here Leading Through Change – Agenda

Click HERE to see Keynote and Facilitator bios


Check out TIME OUT 2017 below!


You’ve waited all year to hear us say it again – it’s time for TIME OUT!

Put yourself in a ‘time out’ for the day. Not because you are bad. Because you are being TOO good. As leaders of social change, we are often doing so much for our organizations and for others that we feel we are too busy to learn. Too busy to look at the big picture. Too busy to spend time with others and look after ourselves. As leaders we need time to reflect, learn and connect.  So it’s time. Time for a TIME OUT!

Join us for TIME OUT 2017, where leaders of social change from Peel and beyond gather to recharge AND renew!


We are SO excited to announce that this year’s keynote and facilitator for the morning session at TIME OUT is Beth Kanter.  Beth is the author of Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media, one of the longest running and most popular blogs for nonprofits.  Beth has over 30 years working in the nonprofit sector in technology, training, capacity building, evaluation, fundraising, and marketing. Beth recently co-authored the book The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit: Strategies for Impact without Burnout. She will be leading us through a dynamic and interactive session where we learn the strategies outlined in her book to make our own nonprofits happier and healthier.

As part of registration, you will get a copy of Beth’s book. Please note that you will get the book on the day!

You can read more about Beth HERE


The Happy Healthy Nonprofit: Strategies for Impact without Burnout

The passion that nonprofit professionals feel for their work is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, that fervor helps them keep going in the face of difficult challenges, especially in the early stages of their careers. On the other hand, they can be so driven they don’t stop to refuel or smell the proverbial roses or even notice they are experiencing symptoms of burnout.  This interactive workshop is based on Beth Kanter’s new book, The Happy Healthy Nonprofit: Strategies for Impact without Burnout (http://bit.ly/happyhealthynpbook).

Learning Objectives:

  • Take a self-assessment to determine burnout symptoms and opportunities to create self-care habits
  • Discuss and share tips and methods for self-care activities that go beyond physical health
  • Learn about how to bring self-care into the workplace to create a culture of wellbeing


Carnival of Conversation featuring:

  • Cafe Conversations with ONN, Canada Helps and others
  • Laser Consulting with PLC Consultants
  • Coach’s Corner with PLC Coaches
  • HR Coaching with our wonderful volunteer HR Coach
  • TIME OUT Room – chair massages with Registered Massage Therapists, Chair Yoga, adult colouring

Who? Nonprofit leaders in Peel and beyond

When? September 27th, 2017 from 9.30 to 4.30pm (registration from 8.30am)

Where? Conference Centre, Centre for Health and Safegy Innovation, 5110 Creekbank Road, Mississauga,                           Ontario  L4M 0A1

How much? 

Peel Leaders –  $75 + $19 Book Fee (Subsidized rate)

Leaders Outside of Peel – $150 + $19 Book Fee

Why? Because you’re worth it!

Register HERE

Here’s why 2016 participants think you should attend TIME OUT:

“Take time out! Professional development is key!”

“You will learn useful things and have many chances to network and make connections!”

“Make time to do this!”

“Do it! And get a massage!”

Want to know more about what goes on at TIME OUT? Check out these great photos from TIME OUT 2016…

Sign up here for info, ideas and inspiration on nonprofit capacity building and leadership!

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