Telling the story of my life in my home - Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Making A Difference - A Personal Thank You to a Leader, Boss and Friend

I sit at my keyboard in my office, not quite sure where to begin. I leave on vacation in two days and I've just been tasked with drafting the most challenging press release I've written so far in my role at the Regional Recreation Corporation of Wood Buffalo, or the RRC as we call it. Finally I tap out the headline in bold font, and there it is, the announcement that Tim Reid, CEO of the RRC and COO of MacDonald Island Park before the transition was made to the RRC, is leaving Wood Buffalo.

My relationship with Tim goes back much further than when I joined the RRC a year and a half ago. It began very near when this blog first began and I started to attend press conferences and community engagement sessions. I don't even recall how or when I first met Tim - it doesn't matter, really, as now it feels like I have known him forever. Even back then I was captivated and excited by his vision for MacDonald Island, but even more so I was struck by his evident leadership. He had this ability to listen, this way of building relationships, and a quiet but sure air of confidence that made you believe, too. He very rapidly became someone I respected, particularly after he took the chaos that the original expansion at MacDonald Island had become and turned it into a successful organization. That Tim was making a difference in our community and making it a better place was clear from the moment I met him.

I attended so many events at Mac Island that I lost count. Concerts, press conferences, galas, community meetings and events. Tim was always there, his smiling face greeting me a fixture at every event. What amazed me was that every single time he would ask me what I thought - and he listened, not in the false way some people do but in the genuine and thoughtful way that makes you know you are being heard. My respect for him only grew with every conversation, enough so that when the recommendation for Shell Place went to RMWB Council I was proud to speak in favour of the expansion, even though I was terrified and my voice quivered. But I knew Tim believed in my ability to deliver my message about why I thought Shell Place was the right choice for our community, and his confidence in me bolstered my own.

When my life changed two years ago I faced a decision. I was at a crossroads when my marriage ended, including deciding whether to stay in Fort McMurray at all. One of the factors in my decision was my ability to find employment that was not only able to support myself and my daughter but that would make me happy and allow me to feel fulfilled, like I was contributing to the community and making a difference in the place I call home. I saw the posting for a Communications job at Mac Island, and while I was terrified about my skills and my ability to rise to the role I submitted my résumé and waited.

When I received the phone call informing me that I had been chosen for the role I felt many things. I was scared. Nervous. Excited. Thrilled. And I wondered, truly wondered, if being inside the organization would be different than being on the outside looking in. I wondered if Tim was truly the leader I thought he was, or if I would be somehow disappointed once I got closer to the reality.

After almost two years I can say it was different.

It was, in fact, vastly and immensely better than I ever thought possible.

Tim was every bit the leader I had believed him to be, and more. As part of Tim's team I have worked harder than I ever have in my life - and I've learned more, loved it more and accomplished more than I ever dreamed possible. When the RRC incorporated last year with a vision of making a difference in our region every day I could not have been prouder to be part of it - because I have believed since my first day on the job that our role is to make that difference, and it began with Tim and his leadership.

I am so proud of Tim as he embarks on an incredible new opportunity and challenge. I am humbled and honoured to have had the opportunity to work for him - and with him - as part of ONE Team. Even more though I am committed to continuing to make that difference, to working harder, learning more, loving it more and doing more than I ever thought I could, because Tim's encouragement and belief in me has given me the confidence to believe in myself. I work with the most incredible people, a team dedicated to making a difference in the communities of our region, each one of us the beneficiary of the kind of leadership that is both rare and unique.

Thank you, Tim, for everything you have done for our community. Thank you for bringing your wonderful wife Nathalie with you, as she too had a profound impact on the youth of this community though her role as an educator and mentor. Thank you for sharing your beautiful boys with us. But, most of all, thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of your team, to learn and grow and accomplish and laugh. While I know Fort McMurray will always be grateful to you I will always be so personally grateful because your belief in me came at a time when I needed it most, and I will never, ever forget it.

As Tim embarks on his new adventure I wish him well and I know he will bring to Edmonton and Northlands all the amazing gifts he brought to our community. I also know that I will continue to work harder than I ever have, striving to make a difference every day in an organization of which I am so very immensely proud to be a part. 

After all, I know Tim would never accept or expect anything less from me - and now, thanks to my time under his leadership, guidance and friendship, nor would I.

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