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The Centre’s new director

Xtra West has learned that professional fundraiser Michael Harding will be the new executive director of The Centre on Bute St.

Harding will take office at the end of June, succeeding Donna Wilson who has been at the community centre’s helm for the past 11 years.

Craig Maynard, co-chair of The Centre’s board of directors, says it was important to select someone who could build on the “excellent foundation” of social service delivery and administration that Wilson established.

“We found Michael’s background in social programming and community development was a good, strong basis for him being able to carry on,” says Maynard.

Maynard highlights Harding’s involvement “in the early days of AIDS Vancouver,” and points to his demonstrated ability to raise capital and forge community connections as further attributes the board was looking for in moving The Centre forward.

Harding was shortlisted, along with seven or eight others, from an original slate of 20 candidates who applied for the job through online ads The Centre’s board posted, notes Maynard.

Xtra West’s repeated attempts to reach Harding for an interview were unsuccessful by press time.

Maynard says it’s his understanding that Harding will not undertake “radical changes in programming.”

“So it’s all positive on that side of things. What he’s looking to do is see the outcomes of the feasibility study [for the new centre], and then with that [look into] the ability to raise capital to build the new facility, [and] ramp up the annual income to pay for the ongoing cost of the new facility,” says Maynard.

A third task on Harding’s agenda will be finding a new, temporary space for The Centre’s operations while studies for the new building are underway.

“Michael is aware of the fact that we want to move to an interim space, or to change the 1170 Bute welcome feel. He’ll be looking for some direction from the board as to how soon.”