In a Jan 10 press release, Larry Hughsam, chair of Toronto’s Community One Foundation, announced that the position of executive director in the organization would end on Jan 20 to make way for the two newly conceived roles of development manager and administrative manager.
Founded in 1980, Community One raises and distributes funds for projects and organizations serving Toronto’s queer communities. Relying solely on private donations, it has raised more than $2 million over the last 30 years.
Philip Wong, philanthropist and former executive director of the Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line, has worked as Community One’s ED since 2007. He left the organization on Jan 20.
“It’s sad to leave,” Wong told Xtra on his last day. “We’ve been talking about how we can best serve the community, creating a stronger structure for the organization. My job was to ensure that we were viable for the future. The board has now decided to go with this new strategy to focus what little resources we have on fundraising. It makes sense.”
In the release Hughsam cited budget restraints and an urgent need to focus on fundraising efforts as reasons for the decision.
“It is a very viable direction that the organization is going in,” says Wong. “No bitterness. No drama.”
Community One board member Susan Mullin commends Wong for his work and says the decision to re-staff was strictly a business one. She says the organization earned a more youthful appeal under Wong’s leadership. One of his initiatives was to coordinate a rebranding of the foundation in 2009 from the former Lesbian and Gay Community Appeal of Toronto.
“We needed a brand,” says Mullin. “We have built the foundation, with Community One as our brand and that is the work that Philip and the volunteers have done, with the Board’s direction.”
But Mullin says that, as the organization set new goals to increase community partnership and fundraising, the executive director role became obsolete.
“The responsibilities [of the new development manager] will be different,” she says. “The next person we are looking for is someone who has done planned giving, as well as face-to-face fundraising and grant writing. We need someone to focus on the fundraising side. We want to be able to grant more funds to the community.”
Recruitment for the positions close Feb 15.
“We’ve had a handful (of applications) so far,” says Mullins. “One of the things we are doing is word of mouth, and we encourage interested people to apply. I think it’s a great opportunity for someone who wants to build programs that are meaningful”.
She adds that the detailed job descriptions and application instructions are available at the organization’s website.
So, what comes next for Wong?
“There are projects that I would like to contribute to in order to make this community stronger,” he says. “Philanthropy is something that I am committed to and will continue to do in the future.”
But first, a well-deserved vacation.
“Cherry blossoms in Japan or a beach in Costa Rica; the number one plan is to be lying on a beach,” he says.