Executive Director Bernadette Beaupre has led CESBA with bold vision through extraordinary growth over the past eight years. Today, we celebrate her work and wish her well as she leaves us for new adventures.
When Bernadette joined CESBA in 2013, the organization relied on a procession of private consultants, with no staff or office. She worked closely with the board to move it to a policy governance framework, which required a massive overhaul of business processes to ensure transparency, accountability and ethical practices.
In her first three years, Bernadette wrote policies and built infrastructure that ensured our sustainability. She moved to an office at Centre for Social Innovation, which allowed her close access to Queen’s Park for meetings with government ministries. She produced annual reports for members and moved CESBA online—no more faxes!
Drawing inspiration from the West Region, Bernadette launched our regional meetings for the North, Central and East Regions. These have become vital touchpoints for our members to network and exchange strategies and resources. She started numerous committees across the sector and ensured they all felt supported. She reached out to our Francophone members to form a committee and committed to always having a Francophone board member.
Bernadette has forged relationships with key government representatives from all relevant ministries. Her government relations work has ensured our organization and programs receive critical funding. She advocated fiercely on behalf of our organization when the government changed, which allowed our survival. CESBA cemented its leadership with the Adult Education Strategy (AES), supporting nine regional AES roundtables. Many important tools and resources came from the AES.
In 2016, Bernadette negotiated with the Ministry of Education to fund the hiring of staff at CESBA rather than project consultants. With the help of the new team, she added a secure website that provided a resource hub for members, social media platforms and our monthly newsletter.
The team also grew the annual conference, supported committee work and launched numerous research and resource development projects. Today, we are an enthusiastic team of six staff members who are committed to supporting adult and continuing education.
The PSW program is of special importance to Bernadette. Since her mother relied on PSW care for the last decade of her life, she deeply valued the chance to promote the excellence and accessibility of school board PSW programs. Her support of the PSW committee has been instrumental in growing PSW programs across the province. After she recently spent hours advocating on behalf of school boards with ministry stakeholders to receive the same student support that public college programs were awarded, we learned this week that the Province extended the funding. It is hard to imagine a more fitting send-off than this news.
Bernadette is above all a connector, and this gift has made CESBA what it is today. She has forged relationships with A&CE stakeholders across the province with tenacity, humour and generosity of spirit. Through her leadership with our member administrators, other community groups, government policy makers, board and staff, CESBA has become a powerful voice for adult and continuing education in Ontario.
Bernadette would like to extend her thanks to the board and committees for their ongoing support and dedication to improving the lives of our students, our communities and our province.
Bernadette – On behalf of our board, staff and membership, we thank you for all you have done for us and we will miss you!