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Gratitude & Respect: A Farewell Letter to the Network

I am both saddened and exuberant to say that after 5 thrilling, singingly wonderful years in many roles as a network steward and policy lead at ONN, I am stepping forward to work with the Government of Alberta as a Foresight Strategist in the Ministry of Health. I believe it is a chance to make change in another essential sector!

I make the shift with gratitude. What a gift these years have been and what a gift it is to know that ONN is in such good hands, with so much strength and energy driving it forward into a new phase. It is with thanks that I send these words out to you, the network.

So many incredible people make ONN what it is – a culture that is lively, honest, curious, creative and above all brave. Courageous. The working groups, the board, the advisors and listeners, those who attend the conference, read documents and help staff get them right, my amazing colleagues on the staff… everyone. I feel deeply honoured to be one of the people that has contributed to something so important – something that we can see gaining momentum and succeeding!

Reflecting on all that we have been able to accomplish as ONN leaves me breathless – all the thousands of people that have lent a hand, a brain, an honest opinion, a hard days’ work (a hard decades’ work!) to realize this dream of a way to get things done together. Whether it is Connect the Sector’s energetic experiments in intergenerational leadership in the sector, the shared platforms working group advising staff to get a guidebook right, pensions and accounting experts coming out of the wood work to get these foundations laid for the sector, the interminable stewardship of the ONCA, or ONN’s policy committee sharing key context for our pre-budget submission, I see the ways of working, the new relationships and connections, turning into concrete actions and successes. Wow.

For me, ONN is a way to champion our sector. Not a single someone to champion the sector, because that is the role of each and everyone one of us. Instead it is a way to help the best of what we do shine, the best of our thinking come together, the shared hopes we have to become articulated. I hope ONN will always be about that messy, hopeful, driven, strategic dream to celebrate the diversity that makes the sector beautiful – and stronger together.

As I think about all I have learned about the non-profit sector, what makes its heart beat, what makes it worth fighting for and worth celebrating, again my heart is full. I have so much to be grateful for. What a sector! What a vibrant and beautiful part of our democracy! What wonderful people that make it happen. What wonderful hands ONN is in moving ahead.

So thank you all for the important work you do, and with special thanks to all of you that I have had the pleasure and honour of working with, learning with, and living with in these past five years. As I transition from this particular role in the network, I look forward to being a part of it in so many other ways – so here’s to the years to come.

Yours with humble gratitude, and much respect,




  1. John Ryerson Says: December 3, 2015 at 9:36 am

    ” I hope ONN will always be about that messy, hopeful, driven,” me too; thanks so much Heather

    • Kate Browning Says: December 3, 2015 at 2:15 pm

      Thank you for your words, John. We’ll certainly miss Heather’s perspective on a daily basis, but we know she’s simply changing her role in the network!

  2. Heather, you and I have been the faces of ONN and CCEDNet’s several complex partnerships and our working together has provided many of the high points of my last five years; whether it was the development of SEontario.org, the rural social enterprise project, the Ontario Social Economy Roundtable (OSER) or just talking about the sector and our priorities. Through it all your energy, focused thinking and organizational skills, together with your ability to ask the right questions and to help make productive connections, all enhanced the process and improved the results.
    Thank you for being such an inspiring colleague and thank you for making such a significant contribution to the sector. I will miss you. We will miss you. Alberta will be better for your presence.