Keir Macdonald recently joined Phoenix after several years with the Lookout Society, where he held positions as Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer and before that spent four years with BC Housing. His background includes legal practice and a passion for human rights law and social justice, as well as a solid track record of leadership in times of significant change. Keir holds two undergraduate degrees in Law and Arts and is currently in his final year of a Masters of Business Administration at Simon Fraser University.
“The Phoenix Society is a ‘best-kept secret.’ I’m looking forward to bringing the work of this essential organization to more people in our community.” In this time of an unprecedented overdose crisis and homelessness, quality organizations like Phoenix are needed more than ever. “I am excited to work with the exceptional management team and staff to help the organization meet the challenges of the next decade,” says Macdonald.
Keir was appointed by the Board of Directors and has demonstrated leadership and technical competencies with his skills, knowledge and ability to follow through with the Phoenix mission, vision and values.
The CEO is the Phoenix Society’s most senior role and requires strong leadership skills and the ability to develop and maintain a culture aligned with the organization’s core values, gain the support and commitment of staff, and volunteers, while working effectively with internal and external stakeholders to achieve organizational goals.
Keir has been with the organization since 2018.
Trudi Shymka has worked with women and children experiencing homelessness in the Downtown Eastside for over 25 years, expanding women-only shelters and developing minimal-barrier services that provide support and opportunities for women to build on their strengths and move towards a better life. For the past decade Trudi has led a portfolio that also includes health and housing services for seniors, people with mental wellness challenges, and end of life care at Bloom Group Community Services Society.
Currently, Trudi serves a member of the Downtown Eastside Coalition of Women Serving Agencies, sits as vice-chair of the Homeless Services Association B.C. and formerly served on the Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood House Board.
“I have a strong drive to provide opportunities for community engagement for individuals who face barriers. One of the biggest motivators to me is peoples’ willingness to open their lives and ask for assistance and share their stories. I just feel so honoured and respectful of that,” she remarks. “Most of us who live lives of privilege don’t have to do that, and when you can create a trusting environment where people feel like they can open up and then identify what their next steps are, that’s what’s really kept me in the work as well as supporting and improving the systems that make those opportunities. I think as I’ve moved away from frontline work I am now really focused on creating work environments to sustain the staff that are willing to do this work.”
Trudi has been with the organization since 2021
Even in the buttoned-down world of financing — She is a CPA, CGA — Kim takes time as a CFO to know the residents at Phoenix, and she appreciates hearing their stories. “I’ve been able to combine my financial expertise with a cause that’s near and dear to my heart,” she says.
Kim has over 25 years of experience in accounting and finance, and has held senior financial positions with not-for-profit and First Nations organizations.
When she started at Phoenix, some 15 years ago, the administration was in a warehouse and programs were running out of residential housing. Kim considers herself fortunate to have been able to work closely with founders Michael and Ann Wilson, helping bring their visions into reality.
Now Kim is proud that what used to be a single recovery home has expanded to become a facility that not only treats addiction but that also addresses a monopoly of issues including homelessness, poverty, health and education.
She believes the success of the program comes from the way the organization listens to clients and puts their needs first. “Everyone is a unique person with unique needs,” Kim says. “every person has their own individual needs, which we do our best to meet.”
Although Phoenix is currently at capacity, staff — and residents — agree that the model works and that it could be expanded. “We have something here that is special, anyone can benefit from what is offered.
Kim has been with the organization since 2001.