Recently I became fully retired and have been reflecting on my career of 39 years as a social worker in the not for profit sector. I worked primarily with youth and have been fortunate to work with many amazing people in the sector, within four Edmonton agencies and with one consulting organization. What keeps surfacing in my reflection is gratitude! 

I am grateful for the experiences with service users for they taught me about myself and helped me grow as a person and professional. These young people showed me that there is always capacity for learning, growth, kindness and compassion despite significant trauma and challenging situations. They demonstrated time and time again, the power of the human spirit to rise above circumstances to not just survive, but to thrive. This determination is inspiring and helped me focus on what is really important in life: relationships and the importance of presence, authenticity, being true to my values,  doing the right thing, and striving to be the best person I can be.

I am grateful to have worked with and for so many caring professionals from many disciplines. The cross pollination of knowledge, opinions and ideas helped to hone my own practice as a front line staff and as a leader. Immersed in learning from all of these individuals, I was able to integrate knowledge into a practice that focussed on being genuine and that was based in humanistic values. The courage and valuable contributions that this group of people demonstrated on a daily basis in their work inspired me to keep showing up and to be determined to work with them to create conditions for change for service users, agencies and in the community. 

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to have worked for the four not for profit agencies. These organizations were values based, mission driven and people centric. The leaders of these organizations each provided mentorship and guidance for me to continue to learn about myself and develop the skills required for service provision and leadership. The agencies supported my desire for ongoing learning and development through formal learning, executive coaching and providing me new opportunities; and for this I will be eternally grateful.

And last but not least, I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Nicole and Organizations by Design! As I left the not for profit field and entered semi retirement, this opportunity was timely. It provided opportunity for continued learning in an area not yet fully explored and helped me to hone skills in development and facilitation of learning opportunities for others. I have learned much from Nicole and from each of the people we were lucky enough to work with through their learning journeys. Most importantly though, working with OBD provided me opportunity to reflect on my career as a leader and what that meant for others and for myself. I am grateful to have ended my career at this point, knowing that I maintained some core beliefs throughout my career: the importance of relationships, intentionality of showing up in my role, being genuine, making decisions based on values and compassion for others, and ongoing learning so I can be my best self! 


Thank you to everyone, for this amazing experience! 

Author: Karen Caine