I joined this organization exactly one year ago. Thinking back to our AGM in 2015, let’s recall that we had a new sense of optimism because it was only a few months since the municipal election had ushered in greater respect and open dialogue about Toronto’s challenges, and a feeling of momentum going forward together.
The Board and staff of SPT have worked hard over this past year to take advantage of this mood of opportunity. We are determined to make positive transitions for the organization, and explore new approaches to meet Toronto’s challenges.
Our new strategic plan sets aside the ‘shopping list’ of urgent to-do items, and instead embeds an more intentional method of making clear choices of where to concentrate our resources. It de nes SPT as a learning and evidence-making agent, and positions us to make a critical contribution at all levels – local, sector, and system-wide.
We are also innovative in our structure, expanding our model of community service to include the best aspects of social enterprise.
And we are renewing our Board, with 5 new members relecting the diversity of our city in geography and background, and the skills that are so critical to our sector – entrepreneurship, social media, finance, and community engagement.
The leadership of our staff team is, of course, the real heart of our wonderful organization. This past year saw the induction of a new Executive Director – Sean Meagher – who has a very deep history in social change work in Toronto, and a longstanding commitment to social justice and community engagement. Sean’s energy, networking prowess, and sharp eye for opportunities to do things faster and with greater impact is an enormous boost for SPT. The Board is committed to providing the kind of governance and guidance that Sean and the whole staff team want in order to exceed our great expectations.
I want to thank you, our Members, for your energy and hard work. We are only as strong as our voice is united, and you are the real reason that SPT can make a difference.
I also extend our great thanks to our funders, especially the United Way Toronto and York Region, City of Toronto, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Echo Foundation, Laidlaw Foundation, Metcalf Foundation, Ontario Trillium Foundation and Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services. We are very grateful for your continued support, trust, and guidance.
Over the coming year we will be addressing other important transitions. The funding models for our largest donors are changing, and we have to modernize our funding strategies to reaect those shifts.
But we cannot be over-confident. My job is to think about SPT as an organization, but of course we only exist because Toronto still has unresolved inequality, poverty, lost opportunity and division between residents. These are facts, and they demand action so we will press forward on the main planks of the City’s poverty reduction strategy, on housing reform, newcomer strategy and the recreation service plan.
I know that we will encounter both success and setbacks. Political and social change presents both opportunities and risks for SPT and the people we serve. But we will meet these challenges, working together in this great organization, with its venerable history and new spirit of innovation. I look forward to our comradeship, and our friendship, and our work together for social justice across this great city.
President, Board of Directors