The torch shines even brighter along the paths to beacon others into the community as Beacon Community Services enters its golden year. Today, joining Christoph Clodius at the precipice of improving lives is the CEO of Beacon Community Services, Tricia Gueulette, holding the organization’s torch. Their programs pan out into every phase of life, helping children, youth, adults, and seniors and supporting the bereaved and mentally ill; this organization provides a proactive and strategic element in helping the community. Tricia also shares her vision within Beacon to impact the community. Along the conversation, she explains how they build the culture within the organization. If you believe in helping people and improving lives, then this episode is for you. Tune in now, and let’s join Tricia in lighting the lightposts along the roads in our community.
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Beacon Community Services With Tricia Gueulette, CEO
In this episode, my guest is Tricia Gueulette. She is the CEO of Beacon Community Services in beautiful Victoria, BC. Welcome, Tricia.
Thanks so much.
It’s great to have you on board and I’m excited to be speaking about this search that we’re launching together for the new Director of Development at Beacon. We’re going to spend a little bit of time talking about that now, what this person is going to be doing, and the exciting opportunity at Beacon. I am looking forward to speaking with you.
Thank you so much for the invitation.
It’s my pleasure. Let’s jump right in then. I’m getting familiar with Beacon, but everybody tuning in may not be that familiar with it. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about Beacon Community Services and what it does?
Beacon is a multifaceted community services agency that works throughout all of the capital regional district across Victoria and into the Gulf Islands. We’ve been around for almost 50 years and we’re proud to say that we’ve grown up in the communities where we served. We currently have approximately 300 staff and we run programs and services that span every phase of life dedicated to helping children, youth, and families be strong and healthy. Also, sheltering seniors. We have two dementia care homes. We support youths who have been living on the streets to come off the streets and go into hopefully eventually employment. We have almost 600 volunteers across the community, working in all aspects of our services.
That speaks to the backbone or the foundation of support you have in the community. That many staff, volunteers, and programs are quite compelling with the broad scope that you have. You mentioned almost 50 years ago. I was going to say, “It’s your 50th birthday next year as an organization. Is it not?”
It is. It’s our 50th birthday. We’re excited to launch a campaign to talk about all the great services that we provide, where Beacon has come from, and where we’re going. It’s an exciting time for us.
Speaking of exciting times, we are working together on this Director of Development search. As I mentioned before, this will be Beacon’s first full-time fundraiser, basically, fundraising staff member. Why now? Why has Beacon decided after 49 years to start getting strategically into fundraising?
We are very good at the services we provide. Fifty percent of our revenue comes from the government. Most of our services are provided through 47 different contracts with the government. At this time, government funding is becoming more and more scarce. To be able to provide the services in the way that we know those services need to be delivered, we are finding that we need to look at alternative forms of revenue. This reflects sort of where Beacon is going. We are very involved in the community. We’d like the community to become more involved with Beacon. This is an opportunity we think to be very proactive and strategic.
I love how you put the proactive and strategic elements. I know the organization behind you is coming from the top at the board for that matter. You and your leadership team are keen and excited. There’s a little bit of, “We don’t know what we don’t know,” but there’s a great opportunity here the more I talk with you and talk about the organization. As the first director, when the first director comes in, what do you envision this person is going to be doing? It’s one thing to say they’re going to be building but what is the work look like in your view?
We are going to be establishing a professional fundraising department within Beacon. They’ll be leading that department in helping to bring on the staff that will be working in that department. They’ll be leveraging our exceptional history and inspiring the community’s impact. They’ll be setting the vision and working on the strategy that’s been good for this. They’ll be working with our board to bring them up to speed and to make sure our policies are in line. My hope at the end of the day is that they’re projecting their vision of where we can take this within Beacon, get our staff on board, and start to impact the community and get them on board as well.
You mentioned the board piece as well. That’s something I want to reinforce again, that the board is on board and the strategy. This person is going to be both a strategist, looking at the broader vision for the role and they’re going to be a doer. They’re going to roll up their sleeves and they’re going to be executing. They’re going to be speaking to donors. They’re going to be writing the letters. They’re going to be saying thank you. As I understand, you’ve received some reactive gifts over the years. There’s a great opportunity to build on those gifts over the years and work proactively towards bringing in more support.
We have 600 volunteers and many who are donating to Beacon. We feel there are opportunities there to bring in more of the strategy around fundraising to make that a bigger department.
If I may say, some of my Discovery Group colleagues have been working with you as well in developing a strategy and starting on some of these policies and cases. We also have that inside knowledge and we’re excited for you as an organization, and a group to get going fundamentally too. Work culture is so important. Candidates love to know about work culture. What’s it like to work there? As Beacon’s leader, what is the culture that you’re trying to create in your teams?
Our values represent our culture. In the last two years, we’ve gone through a revamping of our mission, vision, and values. Our values stand for care, compassion, accountability, responsiveness, and excellence. That’s what we are always striving to have as our culture throughout our entire organization. I believe it’s true. When I look at the people who are working within Beacon, they show up every day full of compassion. They’re accountable for the services they provide. They’re responsive to the community and they always strive for excellence. I think that’s our culture.
It’s a great acronym too, “We care.” We are a caring organization for sure. One of the values is equity, diversity, and so on. I like that Beacon postings talk about, “Our strength lies in embracing and celebrating the unique qualities, experiences, and perspectives of each individual.” How does Beacon work to create a diverse and inclusive workforce?Our strength lies in embracing and celebrating the unique qualities, experiences, and perspectives of everyone. Click To Tweet
We do that in a number of ways. We’re always trying to reflect the community that we serve. The Victoria community is very diverse. It’s becoming more and more diverse as time goes on. We are striving to reflect that from our board right through all of our staff. We’re very proactive when it comes to recruiting board members from different equity groups. We have an equity diversity committee who are helping us to look at all of our language in our policies, being proactive in terms of making sure that we reflect that kind of culture where diversity is attractive and people want to come and work for us.
I’m going to go a little off-script here, Tricia, if I may. Thinking about what we’ve talked about so far with what the director is trying to achieve, and the culture you’re trying to develop here, what do you think are the key traits or some key competencies that this director should have to work best with you and the team both to bring out the best in Beacon, but also be successful and happy with the organization?
I’m looking for someone who’s a great communicator. My personal philosophy is to hire the very best people we can find. I feel my job is to get the boulders out of their way to make it easier for them to do their job. I am not a professional in fundraising so that will be their role, but what I see within our own team right now is people doing the job they’re really good at.Hire the very best people and get the boulders out of their way to make it easier for them to do their job. Click To Tweet
They communicate if they have problems or if things are going sideways. We’re constantly working to get those roadblocks out of the way. People are accountable for their jobs. It’s not my nature to micromanage anybody. My hope is that person will come in and be a leader and set the vision and the tone for this new department that we’re so excited about.
How will this new director earn a gold star working with you, reporting directly to you, working with the other peer leaders, and across the staff and volunteer group for that matter, in their first months?
From my perspective, they would start building relationships. I’m a big believer in relationship-building, not only with the community at large but also, internally. They would get to know Beacon well. They would start to set up the structure for the new department and identify what their big rocks are. What is it that they want to achieve over the next year? Also, have some conversations about how I can support them in that and set some goals. That’s the first piece that we are hoping the new person will establish.
Relations are so important. It’s building that culture of collaboration and philanthropy, and then building out from there fundamentally. Why would someone want to leave their job and come join you? When you think about the compelling reasons for someone to join Beacon at this point in their life or at this point of Beacon’s development. In summary, why do you think someone would want to come join you?
One of the first things that I did when I joined Beacon a few years ago was I went around and talked to all the staff. I asked them, “What is it they love about Beacon?” I got some incredible responses. It’s the impactful work that we do. It’s the passion of volunteers. It’s the culture within Beacon. It’s the belief that what we’re doing is we’re making a difference. If you want to join an organization that truly does impactful work and makes a difference in our community, this is one of them. We have a great reputation. We have a large number of volunteers and donors. Also, it’s an opportunity to leave a legacy.
That’s how I feel certainly. This is a rare and compelling opportunity for someone to come into such an established incredible organization and build out. The inaugural Director of Development. Opportunities like this don’t come along very often. Are there any final messages for candidates or curious people from your perspective?
I would encourage those who are interested to reach out. We want to talk to people. We want to hear from people who might be interested. We will answer questions and give people opportunities to get to know our organization. Curiosity is definitely welcome.
I love it when people ask lots of questions and reach out and explore. Thank you again for your time. For anybody who does want to reach out and learn more, Beacon has a great website. My email is Christoph@TheDiscoveryGroup.ca. If anybody wants to reach out to me directly, get in touch, and learn more, you are more than welcome to chat with anyone.
Beacon has a fantastic website. I love that you’ve got so much material in there, and so much of your program material is very compelling. It’s great to see such a breadth of programs and such a wonderful impact. I love how you put that direct line of sight to impact the community. Thank you again, Tricia. I appreciate your time.
Thanks so much.
I’m looking forward to working with you and looking at some Director of Development candidates with you.
It sounds wonderful. Thank you.
We will chat again soon.