Chatting with the Board 

By Andrew McCutcheon

We’re working on a story a week, every week, for a year celebrating our 50th anniversary. We’ve celebrated folks involved with Kerby Centre at every level in our quest to answer the question: what is Kerby Centre? 

We’ve done stories on clients and volunteers, staff and management. But there’s another really important group of folks who help ensure Unison’s Kerby Centre is doing the best job at ensuring older adults can live fulfilled lives aging in place: our board! 

There’s a lot of talk about boards when we talk about non-profits or similar organizations. They usually seem like a group that works behind the scenes, rarely coming to the forefront. And there are different types of boards! 

Working boards work closer, hands-on to implement long-term strategies. They are more involved in the day-to-day operations of an organization. Our board isn’t one of those! 

Unison, for Generations 50+, which operates Kerby Centre has a governance board. That means while they provide direction and work closely with our CEO and President, Larry Mathieson, they are a bit more hands-off with how Larry is tasked with the duty of fulfilling that direction. 

That doesn’t mean to say the board hides in a room once a month to make decisions! You can see many of our board members volunteering right here at the Centre. In fact: chair of the board, Richard Parker, is a common sight delivering boxes of food to our Thrive program. 

One of the more recent additions to our board is Jacquelyn Poetker. A long-time social worker, advocate, volunteer and academic in the field of gerontology — the study of aging — Jacquelyn was a welcome addition to our incredible board.  

Jacquelyn says its important for a board to have a wide away of experiences to best direct our services in a direction that will benefit folks.  

“We needed a social worker on that board,” Jacquelyn said. “We have an incredible CEO and staff, and the things we do here, we’re doing and offering …  it’s incredible.” 

Jacquelyn’s wealth of experience in several avenues is such an incredible benefit to our organization. A lifelong learner, she’s been involved with volunteering, social work and elder abuse throughout her career. She was even the first female president of Calgary minor league basketball! 

“I love to learn new things, I love challenges, and the best thing you can say to me is ‘maybe you can’t do this’,” she says. 

“I love to learn about how people develop and adapt.” 

As a retired gerontological social worker and an academic educator with a focus on the issues of facing older adults, Jacquelyn says its vital that older adults always be at the centre of their decision making. 

Following in the legacy of previous board member and champion of the issues of older adults, Patricia Allen, Jacquelyn’s words echo the philosophy Kerby was founded on: 

“Nothing about us, without us.” 

In addition to Jacquelyn, our board features chair Richard Parker, past chair Hank Heerema, treasurer Kenneth Lin, and directors Russ Altman, Deborah Durda, Peter Molzan, Gordon “Gord” Nott, Jenna Naylor, Marianne Rogerson, and Gail Lai. 

They are a diverse and incredible group of folks who ensure Kerby Centre and Unison are always looking towards a bright future, with 50 years more — and beyond! — ahead of us. 

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