Witnessing 2023 and Welcoming 2024: A Network Update from Pillar's Board Chair and CEO

One of the things we heard loud and clear from Pillar members and the community this year -- not least through the work of Pillar's Community Advisory Panel -- was a desire to receive updates from leadership regarding the organization's operations. Happy to oblige, then-Interim CEO Maureen Cassidy Board Chair Kapil Lakhotia sent an joint message by email to members and newsletter subscribers in August with an overview of the organization's recent activities and  current priorities. Since then -- in addition to our regular newsletter communications -- leadership has communicated about the appointment of Maureen Cassidy as permanent CEO and the Board has reached out about a community survey meant to inform a provisional strategic plan to guide our activiteis in 2024 and into 2025. Today, on December 18, 2023, Pillar CEO Maureen Cassidy and Board Chair Kapil Lakhotia have once again sent a joint message by email to the network, "Witnessing 2023 and welcoming 2024: A network update from Pillar's Board Chair and CEO."

In case you missed it, here is the full text:

Dear Members,

As we approach the end of another year, it’s natural to look back at the road behind us. Without a doubt, that road has been bumpy for Pillar and our network at times, but the journey has demonstrated our collective resilience and impact. Your commitment to our shared mission has driven us to push through the obstacles we’ve faced, and for that we are deeply grateful. We are immensely proud of what we’ve achieved together.

We cannot bid farewell to 2023 without highlighting once again the incredible work of the Pillar Community Advisory Panel. In a remarkably short period, they convened the community and conducted numerous meetings and a community survey, all of which led to the recruitment and election of our current Board of Directors. Since then, the Board has embarked on an ambitious work plan, participating in Pillar educational workshops and community events, engaging in an in-depth and comprehensive policy review, fostering financial stability, and collaborating with staff on a Board-driven Community Survey to help set Pillar’s strategic direction.

Other 2023 highlights included:

  • Launching the Dharshi Lacey Catalyst Fund supporting Pillar’s new Inclusive Community Events Program giving access to event space and support to organizations and initiatives facing financial barriers
  • Renewing Pillar’s ED/CEO Support Network to make sure senior leaders are not working in isolation and to share best practices across our organizations
  • Relaunching our #PolicyTalk series, building the capacity of nonprofits  to influence decision-making at local, provincial, and federal levels and to participate meaningfully in cross-sectoral solution-making
  • Strengthening strategic partnerships including with London Food Bank and Downtown London with gratitude to all our partners
  • Collaborating with the LEDC in the establishment of Forest City (FC) Landing Pad, allowing over 30 organizations to try out working downtown at Innovation Works
  • Continuing to collaborate with the Elgin Middlesex Oxford Workforce Planning and Development Board to reveal business conditions for regional nonprofits
  • Launching the VERGE Capital Breakthrough Fund II to advance action on housing, climate, and equity in Southwestern Ontario
  • Working on three tables of the Health and Homelessness Whole of Community System Response and two tables of the Age Friendly London Network and Child and Youth Network to ensure that organizations have what they need to deliver the services the community counts on
  • Collaborating with the London Chamber of Commerce for the Nonprofit Business Award as part of the LCC Business Achievement Awards to recognize best practices and performance in the local nonprofit sector
  • Renewing our All About Boards workshop series for high performing boards and trained more than 120 people in board governance
  • Launching the 2023 Pillar Community Impact Program where we’ll offer sponsored services in youth engagement, investment readiness, and public policy to organizations facing financial barriers to these services

As we reflect on our achievements, the end of 2023 marks not just a celebration but an opportunity—a chance to envision our future and chart a course toward that potential. This year, we consciously chose not to apply for the City’s Multi-Year Community Grant Program, opting instead to submit a business case for modest but sustained funding through the City of London’s Multi-Year Budget. By stepping out of the grant stream it was our intention to make room for members and nonprofit organizations seeking city funding for programs which have significant value to the community. 

We know there are people who understand how capacity-building organizations deliver value through their members, and we are very thankful for supporters like the London Community Foundation, the Lawson Foundation, and, in past funding cycles, the City of London. But in a tough year, with a challenging budget ahead, we’ll need to continue to make that case clearly and emphatically. 

Navigating the road ahead will require continued focus and careful planning. Pillar’s 2024-2025 Provisional Strategic Plan was endorsed by the Board at their December meeting. This plan, to be released early in 2024, will help guide Pillar through the next 18 months. With the adoption of the Provisional Plan, the Senior Leadership Team is busy finalizing the Draft 2024 Budget, scheduled for presentation to the Finance and Audit Committee in early January. Finally, Pillar’s Board of Directors has commenced planning for director recruitment to fill Board vacancies at the 2024 Annual General Meeting, marking significant progress towards long-term stability and sustainability.

We hold unwavering confidence in our committed leadership and the diligence of our remarkable staff, experienced veterans collaborating with impassioned new members, all driven to enhance Pillar's impact within our community. With your steadfast support, engagement, and dedication, Pillar Nonprofit Network will persist in our vital mission to cultivate an engaged, inclusive, and dynamic community. With you, hand in hand, we can forge a future where every individual and community not only survives but thrives.

In community,

Kapil Lakhotia                                 Maureen Cassidy
Board Chair                                     CEO
Pillar Nonprofit Network                  Pillar Nonprofit Network 



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