By Rhonda Massad
Leanne Bayer hit the ground running when she accepted the position of Executive Director at West Island Community Shares (WICS) replacing Caroline Tison after her successful 12-year run.
“I have been working with Caroline for three months now,” Bayer explained, “we often come at an issue differently but arrive at the same conclusions.”
Bayer grew up in Dorval but spread her career wings in Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Africa and Washington, DC. Ten of those years working for the World Bank in Burundi, Africa, as the Senior Social Development Specialist. Her personal mission throughout her career has been to work on projects that encompass the reduction of social exclusion, to mitigate sexual and gender-based violence.
“My experience in community development in different contexts outside the West Island can be useful to WICS,” the 44-year-old mother of two explained. “I’m anxious to work with the team who already have a good thing going and add what I have learned over the years.”
“We want a more ambitious campaign to get the community engaged,” she said. “We want to look at more community events that are accessible to everyone. We currently work with a lot of corporate sponsors which we will maintain, of course, but we hope to have more events that families can access, like the breakfast. We are working on ideas that join the corporate sponsors and the community together.”
Bayer supports the WICS mission to continue to be a reliable partner to the 40 community groups that WICS fund raises for each year.
“The idea for Community Shares has always been to have real partnerships with the groups we support and maintain current funding. Our commitment is not a year by year thing,” Bayer assured. “As long as everything is going well for the groups and their impact on the community remains pertinent, it is understood that they do not need to reapply every year. ”
Bayer has set a fundraising goal of $1.2 million for the upcoming campaign, the same as last year.
“This is a big transition year for the team,” she stated. “I have big shoes to fill. We plan on maintaining our numbers from last year and will be happy to exceed them. At $1.2 million we can continue to support our forty groups. We will build from there. We will not be letting them down.”