When Kim Lyster was recruited to the Community Foundation board, it was a well-functioning but traditional organization. She saw an opportunity for it to become so much more. “I hoped we could host different conversations, and change how we expressed our leadership on issues in the community,” says Kim.
Luckily, other board members were more than willing to move beyond traditional granting models that were the backbone of many foundations. The Penticton Youth Centre was just such a project that required an ‘out-of-the-box’, bold and fresh approach.
“I knew we could do it, and that we had to do it,” Kim says of the Youth Centre project. “Kids in our community were feeling hopeless, they didn’t know where to find resources. They just really needed a place where they felt valued and welcome.”
Finding a home for youth services couldn’t be achieved through traditional funding routes and became a a multi-year challenge. Instead of giving up, the board got creative, eventually leading to the Foundation purchasing a building with the Foundry as an anchor tenant, operated by a local service provider. “It’s become a marquee project, and something that has galvanized the community. I’m really proud of it and the Community Foundation’s bravery in taking the lead to support our youth.”
Kim advises the board to continue to be innovative and to work hard. “You’ve got to really show up as a board member to have the big conversations — that means doing your homework, being informed, and putting in sweat equity on the projects that ignite your passion.”
“As a leader on our board, Kim was never afraid to ask tough questions and get right to the heart of the matter. She always asked: ‘Are we making a difference?’” says Aaron McRann, Executive Director. “Her willingness to put her reputation on the line to create real, positive change has been instrumental in the evolution of the Foundation.”
Community foundations are currently evolving as organizations. “I encourage board members to evolve along with them,” adds Kim. This means being good stewards and protecting what’s working well, but also being a leader when it comes to diversity and having conversations about decolonizing wealth. This kind of evolution doesn’t happen overnight. But, as Kim knows, it’s also not something that happens unless people are willing to come to the table and talk it out.