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Whistler Community Services Society gets new executive director

Lorna van Straaten, interim executive director, takes the helm



The top job at Whistler Community Services Society is now officially in the hands of Lorna Van Straaten, who has been serving as the interim executive director since Greg McDonnell took parental leave in January to focus on his family and his counselling practice.

Last week it was announced that McDonnell would not be returning to WCSS after his leave was up, but instead would focus on his clinical counselling business.

"I've been doing my private practice part-time for close to three years, and it's seen slow but steady growth - it just feels like a natural progression for my career trajectory," said McDonnell.

McDonnell has been with WCSS for 10 years and has been the executive director of the non-profit community service organization for four years. He said he would miss the level of community involvement.

"My whole life I've worked with non-profits," he said.

"From Whistler 2020 to working with other non-profits and fundraising with different groups in town. And working in the schools was really rewarding. I will definitely miss that community engagement, and will miss working for such a well-established non-profit with such a long history of good work."

McDonnell has been busy and in his tenure he's seen the introduction of several new initiatives while also carrying forward the work of his predecessors. He's particularly proud of the Youth Outreach program, which he personally helped to create and shape, as well as all the work that's gone in to the Re-Use-It Centre and Re-Build-It Centre - diverting materials from the waste stream and providing affordable used clothing and other items to low income residents, while also raising money for other WCSS initiatives. He's also proud of the way that the Food Bank has handled the additional demands on its services.

"The food bank has been under incredible demand the last couple of years, and we worked really hard to meet that demand and to create relationships with some of the key funders," he said.

One of the highlights of his tenure was a trip to Beijing in 2009, where he told officials about the success of the Re-Use-It Centre and plans for the Re-Build-It Centre.

At the recent annual general meeting, WCSS confirmed Van Straaten as the new executive director. McDonnell had high praise for his successor; "She is just fantastic, a really caring and a very hard-working person, and I know she'll do a great job in that role."

As well, the board had a few changes. Stepping down are Susan Krieger, Jon Decaigny, Kathleen van der Ree and Cathy Goddard. New board members are Stephanie Matches, Mavis Jenner, Josh Blodans, Christian Boone, Colleen Fraser and Britni Troy. Staying on were Karen Bauckham, Doug Treleaven and Anne Townley.