Phoenix Society is pleased to announce it has hired Trudi Shymka as its first-ever Chief Operating Officer.
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 Shymka 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.
“Phoenix Society’s positive reputation in treatment and recovery was a big draw in accepting the new position. I’m looking for a new challenge and a new environment to learn in as well as contribute to,” says Shymka of her new role at Phoenix Society.
“I was looking for a place where we are not just dealing with emergency intake but also expanding services to meet peoples’ needs across a larger spectrum. The fact that Phoenix is so positively embedded in the treatment and recovery community and is now expanding beyond that is what interested me,” she explains. “I’m just so hopeful; to see that wherever people bump up against a service, there is a way to provide support.”
Currently, Shymka 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.
Shymka will begin with Phoenix Society on May 17, 2021 after she leaves her role as Associate Executive Director at the Bloom Group Community Services Society, an organization which she has worked with for 25 years.
She says all those years ago when she first arrived at a shelter serving women and children she “fell in love with the sector.”
“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.”
“I am really excited about the work Phoenix is doing and the kind of growth that’s happening in a community that has such high needs,” Shymka adds.
Phoenix Society CEO Keir Macdonald says he is very excited to welcome Shymka to the growing team.
“Trudi brings decades of experience, passion, leadership and knowledge working with marginalized individuals, with significant expertise in the delivery of homelessness services,” says Macdonald. “The past year, Phoenix Society has seen significant growth and changes in its services including obtaining CARF accreditation last December which was a key goal for the organization. We are excited to work with Trudi who brings such a wealth of knowledge in many key areas for us. We look forward to Trudi helping our organization meet whatever opportunities and challenges the future holds as we continue to face parallel public health emergencies with the drug poisoning epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Chief Operating Officer is a new position for Phoenix and came about in part due to the growth the organization has had over the past two years, as it will provide operational strength and leadership to programs but also to support the continued role out of accreditation processes with CARF, an area in which Trudi has an immense amount of experience.
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