A Farewell Letter from Former Executive Director Jane Hilderman

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Happening Now Thursday, October 17, 2019 View Count = 861

A Farewell Letter from Former Executive Director Jane Hilderman

Our former Executive Director, Jane Hilderman, reflects on her time at the Samara Centre as she welcomes Kendall Anderson as the new Executive Director.


Elections are always about change. And so I find it democratically apropos that my time at the Samara Centre is bookended by ballot boxes.

I joined Samara in 2011—just as the dust on a federal election settled and a new Parliament commenced. I was a keen and idealistic 25-year-old who had just wrapped up a year on Parliament Hill. My front-row seat working on the ‘inside’ of Canadian politics both inspired and frustrated me, and I was determined to find a way to improve the status-quo. I had a job offer to keep working on the Hill, but I thought the chance to work from the ‘outside’ would be worth a shot. I would stay two years at Samara, or so I figured.

The Samara I joined was then very new, and forging a path all its own in the Canadian political landscape. At that point, it was not always self-evident that a nonpartisan charity using research and education could (or quite frankly, should) rise above the political fray to connect with Canadians on issues of democratic health.

Needless to say, I didn’t stay two years. Eight years on, I’m still inspired and frustrated by Canadian politics, but I have come to see how the conversation can shift bit by bit thanks to the voice of an organization like Samara—one that is research-based but not academic, is serious but not too much so, and values both big-P and small-p political engagement.

The Samara of 2019 that I am departing could not be more needed or better positioned for ongoing impact. Democratic well-being now earns mention at dinner tables and coffee shops across the country. I’m very proud that the Samara Centre is turned to again and again for its ideas, insights, and partnerships—by Parliamentarians, journalists, educators, governments (at many levels), international organizations (like the UN), and above all, by Canadians. It is a happy challenge to keep up with these opportunities!

Amidst these outward markers of impact, the real professional highlight for me has been the people I’ve worked with in my eight years at the organization—and especially my three years as the Executive Director. Highly committed board members remain a wonderful source of inspiration, guidance and integrity. Our co-founders, Michael MacMillan and Alison Loat, continue to care deeply about Samara’s mission and success. Many long-standing donors and funders have become vital champions and friends.

Above all, I could not have asked for better colleagues over the years, from whom I learned so much  every day, and who continually re-filled my well of passion for this work.

There is one person with whom I have worked the longest and most intensely at Samara: Kendall Anderson. I’m tremendously delighted that she is the Samara Centre’s next Executive Director, for I have observed the depths of her creativity, diligence and respect for the people and the mission of Samara in action. The Samara Centre for Democracy will only pick up speed under Kendall’s leadership.

I wish Kendall, the team, and the board every success, and look forward to cheering them onwards from a new perch in Winnipeg!

With Gerard, my husband, and Portia, my daughter (now 8 months old), I’ll be relocating to The Peg by year’s end and looking for new adventures, professional and recreational. If you have any advice, suggestions, or people to connect with – please be in touch with me on social media, or pass messages along to me through Samara.

P.S. Remember to vote on October 21st

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