Chair’s Report for 2014-15

Chair’s Report for 2014-15

I am honoured to present the following report on the activities of EPAC since the last AGM on June 25, 2014.

The main features of this past twelve months have been:

  1. renewal of the EPAC website;
  2. resumption of lunch-time round tables in Ottawa;
  3. two on-line platforms for “community of practice” networking and learning opportunities;
  4. two more successful half-day workshops in Ottawa;
  5. external education and training inquiries;
  6. help from a part-time executive director;
  7. engagement of a new service provider;
  8. directors, volunteers, membership.
  1. EPAC contracted with Jonathan Gallivan, a website developer, in May 2014 to create an attractive, up-to-date look and interactive features that members find useful. Behind the curtain, we switched to WordPress to make the site simpler to maintain by volunteers. The new site was launched in April. Several directors and other members and our part-time executive director assisted in the effort. Our challenge now is to build on the site – keep it up-to-date with current information and make it a location for finding information of permanent interest to members.
  2. Ethics round-tables at lunch time ran in Ottawa from 1993 to 2011. At first there was no pre-set topic. Later, a speaker did a presentation to the gathering. These were very popular, and while independent of EPAC, they overlapped with our organization and helped it to grow. They have been missed, so EPAC reinstated the ethics round-tables this winter. There is no set topic; the conversation covers whatever the participants wish. Four have been held to date (March, two in April, May) and the next six dates are already announced on the website. These events are probably the easiest way to inaugurate face-to-face discussion and networking in any locality with at least one EPAC member.
  3. The EPAC LinkedIn Group (open to anyone) and the members-only EPAC Community of Practice on the Google+ platform were both launched in early 2014. There have been numerous postings, especially to the LinkedIn Group, some of which led to extended ‘conversations.’ The Google Community provided the option to conduct ‘Hangouts’ (videoconferences of up to ten participants), and several were conducted. The overall results have been somewhat disappointing – participation was less vigorous than anticipated. Led by former vice-chair Anne Buchanan until early 2015, these options respond directly to members’ requests for opportunities to network and learn from each other, even if face-to-face is not possible. Our challenge is to educate our members to use these facilities; and to tweak them or replace them with other more effective social-media facilities. I wish to acknowledge Anne for her great dedication.
  4. We continued our workshop series in Ottawa with an October 30 session from Dr. Steve Maguire on ethical leadership and associated risks. We were grateful to have the Carleton University Centre on Values and Ethics (Dr. Maguire) as our partner, providing the venue and refreshments.

Our Spring workshop – the tenth since late 2010 – took place this morning. Ann Fraser, Art Stewart and Michael Bassett addressed issues of Ethical Risk and Accountability. The School of Public Ethics of Saint Paul University (Dr. Louis Perron) was our sponsor, giving us a discount on facilities and services.

  1. Last November EPAC was approached by the Canadian Construction Association regarding a large-scale ethics training initiative. As Chair, I had several exchanges with the head of CCA’s working group, and in early March three EPAC representatives spoke to their first planning meeting. EPAC also distributed CCA information to our membership to elicit offers of assistance (contract or volunteer). We will maintain contact with the project, and hope to make use of the eventual training materials to create learning opportunities under the EPAC banner.

Two government organizations also contacted us for help, but the initial exploratory discussion did not lead to further developments.

We responded positively to the Carleton University Ethics and Public Affairs program about the possibility of providing student internship opportunities and participating in other ways. The program was announced on February 15, 2015; one of the founders is EPAC member, Dr. Jay Drydyk.

  1. Early last year, EPAC member Anne Bossé offered her services as a volunteer part-time executive director for up to a year. Beginning in early February 2014, she addressed key priorities, particularly the website and our relationships with our service provider. She also arranged the October workshop, provided advice to the Board, helped with communications and translation and the selection of a new service provider, and developed procedures. She left us in November for full-time employment at the Canadian Standards Association. Thank you Anne for your tremendous gift of support to EPAC.
  2. EPAC contracted for administrative services from a virtual office in the Toronto region in May 2012. The provider informed us that it would cease operations in December 2014, so the Board opted to approach Willow Group, an Ottawa firm that had also bid on our original RFP. After negotiation over price and services, we have engaged Willow to conduct our membership registration, registration for events, member communications and website maintenance. It also serves as our legal address and archive.
  3. We begin this meeting with nine Directors. Four intend to continue. Three of us are standing for reelection: our very devoted secretary Mark Audcent (in Ottawa); Ryan Turnbull, a very busy communications and sustainability consultant in Toronto; and myself as Chair (Ottawa and Nova Scotia). In addition, Gary Corbett (Ottawa and Cape Breton), who brings broad and deep federal government experience as a former Professional Institute executive and president, will continue (he is in mid-term). Four other individuals have stepped forward: Kim Ann Chute, Mary Gusella, Matt Marjanski and Meg Steele (all in Ottawa). Their election later in this AGM would bring our complement to eight. Our Articles of Continuance require the Board to have at least three directors and no more than twelve. While eight is a solid number, I hope to hear from more volunteers, with a focus on representing more regions of Canada and a wide range of interests and roles in organizational ethics.

As of today’s AGM, we sadly say goodbye to five directors who have decided against standing for renewal:

  • Michael Bassett (Ottawa) provided a non-government voice in our deliberations from his vantage point at the Conference Board of Canada;
  • Monique Boivin (Gatineau) has helped EPAC with its communications and French-versioning for several years. She was recruited onto the Board half a year ago but has opted to focus on communications and on coordinating the Ottawa round-tables rather than Board business;
  • Janice Gray (Ottawa) has been our extremely diligent and careful Treasurer for four years;
  • Jodi LeBlanc (Charlottetown) helped EPAC to explore social-media platforms and served on the Audit Committee with Mark Audcent;
  • Chris MacDonald, a business ethics professor at Ryerson University in Toronto, contributed in various ways to our educational plans and activities (such as hosting several ‘Twitter Chats’).

I am extremely grateful to all of them.

Besides our departing directors, I wish to acknowledge some other volunteers as well:

  • Our workshop speakers of the past year (Steve Maguire, Ann Fraser, Michael Bassett, Art Stewart)
  • Anne Bossé for her courageous offer of two days a week as volunteer executive director
  • Members of the web site and CoP committees, besides several directors, included Laura Hughes in New Brunswick, Al‑Noor Nenshi Nadoo in Calgary, Valerie Elliott in Victoria, Wendy Lockhart in Charlottetown, and Sylvie Plante and Laurence Bien-Aimé in Ottawa-Gatineau
  • Cornelius von Baeyer, an EPAC founder and wearer of many hats over the years, has always been generous with advice and historical information. This winter he helped us to respond to the Canadian Construction Association.
  • Albert Tshimanga for taking on the leadership of the Ottawa workshop committee; Eliane Turner and Evonne Dutil have offered to help out
  • Jonathan Gallivan has provided significant assistance to our learning and growing period with the new site; this is beyond the scope of our contract with him.
  • Two former directors and executives of EPAC deserve special recognition: Anne Buchanan for her efforts to establish an active on-line community of practice for EPAC; and Jane Garthson, one of EPAC’s founders, who played many roles over the years and most recently was a very active participant in the CoP. Both have decided to drop their membership. My thanks and best wishes to them.

The EPAC membership at this time last year was 72. Right now we have 58 members. I believe we can achieve an upswing. There is increasing interest in academic circles and I expect that we will attract more student members. Our new website allows us to present ourselves more credibly. We must figure out how to use the magic of the website and probably of social media to make EPAC part of the natural, ongoing discourse on ethics in Canada. I have learned that it is important to our members to have an organization like EPAC – some are so committed that they step forward to volunteer on the Board and in other ways.  We won’t let this flame die. We are convinced of the need for EPAC to exist and to become more vigorous. Canada needs EPAC!

Robert Czerny, chair, EPAC Board of Directors, 18 June 2015


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