Amplifying Community: exiting REACH Board chair reflects on six years of advocacy

After three years serving as the Chair of the REACH Board, Pilar Martinez, CEO of the Edmonton Public Library, ended her time on the board after the election of new members in June of this year.

With six years total serving on the board, Martinez is proud of the work that’s been done during her years of service.

“I’m really proud that we upped our game in terms of governance. The board is now in super shape in terms of bylaws, governance policy and clarifying our strategic role. We brought in that bird’s eye view of where we add value. We’re not deep into the programs and operations.” she says. “It is such a cohesive, diverse and engaged group. One of the phrases I’ve heard in governance is ‘nose in, fingers out’.”

Serving as chair was a positive experience, rife with learning opportunities for Martinez.

“I learned how important it is as chair to listen and create opportunities for everyone’s voice to be heard, by reaching out to people who haven’t been speaking up, which is especially important when we haven’t been able to meet in person,” she says.

While she’s sad to be leaving, in accordance with bylaws that allow directors to serve a maximum of two terms, she’s excited to see what the future has in store.

“I’m sorry that I have to leave because this new crop of directors is going to add incredible diversity of background and they’re going to need to focus on advocacy which they’re super well-positioned to take on,’ she says.

Going into the near future, with a new City Council and new board members, Martinez is positive about the direction the organization is going.

“I hope the board continues to be this asset to REACH that is able to champion and position REACH as an invaluable organization, especially with this new City Council,” she says.

“There’s such deep commitment among the board members, new and returning, to the mission of REACH. They’re there because they want things to be better. I haven't seen that depth of passion on other boards that I see at REACH. There’s a real collaborative spirit. They understand that relationships and people are messy and complex.”

With her time intimately involved with REACH now in the rear-view mirror, Martinez is confident in the future of the organization and will continue to advocate for the work REACH does in the community.

“I just want to say how fabulous an organization REACH is. It’s just incredible the work that’s being done. People have no idea the impact the organization has on our community and the communities we serve,” she says.

“Going forward I see an opportunity for REACH to play a bigger role in Edmonton, because the organization is in the proactive space instead of the reactive space. Amplifying community: this is what REACH does.”



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