Durham CAS Executive Director announces retirement
Wanda Secord, Executive Director of the Durham Children’s Aid Society, has announced that she will be retiring effective June 30th, 2019. Ms. Secord’s career in child welfare spans 38 years, 34 of which were at Durham CAS where she started as a frontline family service worker.
Over the past 12 years, Ms. Secord has lead the organization as its Executive Director, making her one of the longest serving Executive Directors in the agency’s 114-year history.
“It has been my privilege to serve this great agency,” says Ms. Secord. “Durham CAS has experienced significant growth and change over the years. Our accomplishments are a testimony to our remarkable staff, board, caregivers, volunteers and community partners. I have always been in awe of the strength and resiliency of the children, youth and families we serve and it has been an honour to work alongside such inspirational people for so many years.”
Ms. Secord’s achievements and contributions to Durham CAS and the child welfare sector have been numerous and significant. She has guided the agency through many changes and advancements, including:
- Legislative and child welfare sector transformations, most recently the Child, Youth and Family Services Act
- The integration of Anti-Oppressive Practice throughout all agency departments and services
- The focus on better outcomes for children and youth though admission prevention and family based care, resulting in a significant reduction of the number of children and youth in care over the years (over 900 in 2007/08 to under 500 in 2018/19)
- The establishment and integration of several innovative services for children, youth and families, such as the Indigenous services team, the pre-natal support program, and the Signs of Safety practice model
- Development of a culturally diverse Board and agency workforce reflective of the community we serve
- Strong working relationships with the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation and Dnaagdawenmag Binnoojiiyag Child and Family Services
- Responsive engagement with the African Canadian community in Durham, leading to the establishment of the Building Bridges Community Consultations and the Community Advisory Council
- The focus on over-representation of African Canadian and Indigenous children, youth and families receiving service from the agency
- The integration of the new provincial Child Protection Information Network (CPIN)
- Leading the “Changing the Picture” provincial committee that advocated for more women to assume senior leadership roles in child welfare
In addition, Ms. Secord has lead several regional and provincial committees. She was one of the founding members of the Durham Children and Youth Planning Network, and DRIVEN – a network supporting women experiencing gender-based violence, as well as a steering committee member of the Durham Connect community collaboration. Ms. Secord has built strong relationships and partnerships in the community, and is well-respected by staff, agency caregivers and volunteers, board members, sector colleagues, and the Ministry.
“We are extremely grateful for Wanda’s unwavering dedication and leadership over the years” says Sonia Muñoz, President of the Board of Directors. “Her commitment to the board, staff and caregivers, along with her passion and determination for helping children, youth and families, will leave a legacy with the agency and the community that will not be forgotten. Thank you Wanda.”
Durham CAS has engaged with search firm Four Corners Group to begin the process of recruiting for Ms. Secord’s successor.