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THE JOURNAL OF THE ONTARIO ASSOCIATION OF SOCIAL WORKERS
Presentation of the 2017 OASW Beverley Antle Leadership Award to Kate Power
Courageous Leadership is described in the following quote by Brené Brown: “You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot have both.” This very much applies to Kate Power.
Kate Power, MSW, RSW, obtained her Master’s of Social Work degree from Wilfrid Laurier University. She developed wide experience in front-line responsibilities at the Children’s Aid Society in Cornwall, Family Services of Halton, the Hamilton District School Board and the (former) Halton Community Care Access Centre. From there, Kate moved quickly into senior management and administrative roles as the Regional Director of Community Rehab, which provided health professional services including social work to CCACs and hospitals as well as to insurance companies for people recovering from a motor vehicle accident; and the Director of Client Services for the Ontario Association of Community Care Access Care Centres.
Since 2010, Kate has exercised a broader executive leadership in two organizations. She was the Executive Director of the Family Counselling and Support Service for Guelph-Wellington, a family service organization that provides therapeutic counselling services to people of all ages, services to survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, financial counselling services, and services and supports to those with developmental disabilities. For the past two years, she has been the CEO/Executive Director of Links2Care, a multi-service health care agency with 11 locations across Mississauga Halton that employs 180 full-time and part-time staff and has 230 volunteers. This agency provides early years programs, before & after school programs, support and counselling for youth-at-risk, community support services for adults in crisis in North Halton and seniors support programs (personal support services, home support services, home maintenance and meals-on-wheels).
Although much of Kate’s employment has not been in traditional social work roles, she has always identified herself as a social worker. One of Kate’s passions has been professional advocacy. For many years, she has believed that the social work profession needs to be better understood, and that we need to more clearly articulate the efficiency and cost-effectiveness that the profession brings to the sectors in which social workers practice. Kate joined the OASW Board of Directors in 2007 as Vice-President, Social & Professional Advocacy. She demonstrated this passion and leadership as a member of the Association’s Budget, Finance & Audit Committee and the former Government Relations Advisory Committee and, additionally, as the Chair of the Health Care Advisory Group. Kate played a key role in consultations and at discussion tables with government leaders including the Ministers of Community and Social Services and Health and Long-Term Care, their representatives and/or government-appointed consultants to advocate for the inclusion of social work in government policy, initiatives, programs and legislation. She also played a pivotal role in emphasizing to government the importance of addressing the social determinants of health and reducing costs to the social and health care system.
Kate has championed the role of social work in health care, especially primary care, and has spoken persuasively, compellingly and articulately when she has presented at annual conferences such as those of the Ontario Hospital Association and the Ontario Association of Community Care Access Centres. She also authored/co-authored publications about the unique and valuable role of social work for the Ontario Case Managers Association, the Ontario Home Care Association as well as for OASW, to raise the profile of social work and enhance the understanding of the services we provide.
As OASW President from 2010 to 2014, Kate continued to seek opportunities to advance the role of social work, to promote the importance of the provincial association as a collective voice for social workers, and to inspire a sense of pride in the profession. In her two terms of office, she provided visionary, proactive leadership within the Association and on behalf of the profession.
Kate is a focused and effective leader who has exemplary skills in generating dialogue around complex issues and embraces challenges. She facilitated consensual decision-making, and her meetings were consistently productive, illuminating and filled with humour. Kate had the distinct ability to synthesize and communicate what she had observed and experienced in discussions with her colleagues. Without fail, she expressed her gratitude to the Board and Executive for their insights, time and commitment, which she once said “allows the Association to be progressive, not reactive, and to truly make a difference”.
Kate believes that strong organizational governance is vital for organizations to fulfil their mandates. For example, she oversaw the modernizing of OASW’s Board Governance model and policies. Since leaving the Board, she has continued to share her highly specialized knowledge on Board Governance.
Over her career, Kate has exhibited an enduring compassion for vulnerable populations. She was an active member of the Guelph & Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination, which made a very substantive submission to the government’s renewal of Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy in 2013. Other volunteer and service contributions have included: Director, Family Service Ontario Board of Directors; Vice-Chair, Catholic Family Services of Hamilton; and Director, Shifra Maternal Home, Burlington.
Kate Power is a highly intelligent, energetic, consummate critical thinker who possesses a depth and breadth of knowledge related to her exceptional understanding of organizations within a rapidly changing work climate. She has demonstrated generosity and dedication to the social work profession, of which she has been a most effective champion, as well as to OASW. Her leadership within the Association was mirrored by OASW reaching its highest membership level ever achieved at that time. Throughout her immensely successful career, Kate has provided inspiring and courageous leadership and vision which have garnered respect from both within and outside of the social work profession.