Get to Know Your YWCA Board of Directors: Lawrie Ferguson
We sat down and spoke with Board Chair Lawrie Ferguson, who shared her insights and journey with us.
On her career and introduction to community partnerships.
I worked at Coast Capital Savings Credit Union for 28 years. When I left, I was the Chief Marketing Officer.
One of the portfolios I looked after was called Community Leadership – it was our philanthropy and we gave 7% of our annual budgeted pretax income (about $5 million) back to our community through charities. That’s where I started to get exposure to nonprofits. We set up a Youth Council and they got to decide where a lot of that money went. They really took it seriously and the volunteers were great young leaders within our community and employees of Coast.
In 2019, I left my corporate job. I was asking myself: what’s next for me? I really wanted to work with more purpose-driven organizations, so I started a consultancy called Collective Good. We (mostly I) do marketing, strategy, planning, communications. The “Collective” means that I can reach out to people I know and bring them in when I don’t have the skillset needed. I get to work with a variety of organizations including non-profits.
Which brings us to the YWCA Board of Directors.
I am in my fourth year of a six-year term and first year as Chair.
The YWCA has a great reputation and I was especially drawn to the focus on gender equity. The Board is seen as a true governance Board, and it is full of super smart, compassionate women who care about the success of the YWCA. I learn something from them every day. We have a talented and diverse group of Directors and are continuing to increase our diversity in all areas – gender diverse women, young women, women with different lived experiences and women from different cultural backgrounds.
Erin, her team, and the employees run the organization. The Board’s role is noses in, fingers out. Our job is one of oversight and to be trusted advisors to the terrific management team. I am proud of what the YWCA does. We are doing important work in areas like – housing, supporting women fleeing violence, employment, and are advancing on truth and reconciliation and decolonization.
Everyone at the YWCA is really passionate and capable and is motivated by our vision, you don't have to teach purpose here. I see it in management, the board and in all the employees I've had the great fortune to interact with.
Thoughts on the new Strategic Plan.
The vision and the mission are the thread, and everything layers up to them. I've seen plans developed at other organizations and then sit on the shelf, and that's not going to happen here.
One thing I loved was that its development was collaborative involving board directors, community members, employees and donors. It was a lot of work, and everyone has become quite passionate about it. It's a bit of a moon shot, too…maybe we don't get everything, but we’ll get further because we are going to just go for it.
On her other sides.
I have a son and he's in his (hopefully) last two semesters of engineering at University of Victoria and plans to go to Europe in the summer with his girlfriend.
I love to travel and was just in London. I have a partner, John, he's a retired bus driver, so he is primarily with our dog, baking and enjoying his free time.
I DJ parties and play drums in an all-female band called Couldn’t Sleep, because at our age nobody sleeps well anymore. We crash friends’ house parties and play, where people can’t really escape.
We rent rehearsal space that we share with a lot of headbanger groups. We're very persnickety about putting all the equipment away, very punctual, and we play ABBA next to some all-out thrashers. It’s all very fun.