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CASWE-ACFTS Welcomes New President, Dr. Dixon Sookraj

July 15, 2015

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

I wish to welcome Dr. Dixon Sookraj as the new President of the CASWE- ACFTS. First elected to our Board in 1997, Dixon rejoined the Board of Directors in 2011 as representative of the International Affairs Committee and is presently serving a second consecutive term on the BOD. He was elected as President Elect in May 2014 and began assuming full responsibilities as President on June 4, 2015, when my term ended.

Dixon is an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia (Okanagan Campus). He has been a member of the Association for more than two decades. As a member, he participated in a number of caucuses and later became an active member of the International Affairs Committee (IAC), serving as Chair for two consecutive terms. In this capacity, Dixon represented the CASWE-ACFTS on the Board of Directors (BOD) of the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) and on the Executive Committee of the North American and Caribbean Association of Schools of Social Work (NACASSW). As an active member of these Associations, Dixon has advanced Canadian perspectives and interests while earning the respect of his colleagues across the world.

I asked Dixon for his thoughts on his new leadership position and he replied:

It is quite an honour to have earned the confidence and trust of my colleagues on the Board of Directors (BOD) who urged me to stand for this important position in our Association. I was content with dedicating my time to the Association over the past years, because I shared its commitment to promoting excellence in Canadian social work education, research and practice. The privilege of serving on the BOD and the IAC, and of representing the Association in the international arena soon became obvious. There was much to learn about the strengths of the profession, the issues and challenges it faces, and the diverse array of approaches to education, research and practice across the globe. The most beneficial, perhaps, is my learning in relation to engaging colleagues across diverse cultures, languages, interests and perspectives in making decisions on social work education. I believe our Association represents a microcosm of this complexity, and I am confident that this experience will serve me well in my role as President.

 I aspire to provide the best leadership possible. My view of a strong leader is very simple. First, a strong leader is competent. That is, the leader has the requisite values, knowledge and skills to do the job well. Secondly, a strong leader is honest and has integrity. The leader has earned the trust and confidence of members and other significant constituencies. Members know what the leader will do whatever it takes to help make the best decisions possible. Finally, a strong leader serves in the interest of the whole Association. The leader values inclusion of all voices, and privileges collective, participatory decision making. I am sure I will hear from many of you if I fail to meet these impossibly high standards.    

 Fortunately, I have had the luxury of witnessing many significant positive changes in the Association in recent years. These changes include improvements in the governance structure and processes, and in our relationships with the members and key constituencies. In addition, there has been considerable progress in strengthening the bilingual nature of the Association. I will continue the work of strengthening capacity in these areas, and I appreciate having a BOD, whose members are fully supportive of this vision.

 I will work hard to ensure that the Association continues to grow as a vibrant, dynamic, inclusive organization. It is imperative that, as a body, we remain proactive, keeping up with new developments in legislation and regulation, community needs and aspirations and other issues affecting social work education across Canada and beyond. There are many issues needing our attention on the horizon: 1) federal election; 2) TRC; 3) conflicts and terrorism; 3) natural disasters and displacement; and 4) economic, environmental and social justice issues. I look forward to engaging colleagues within Canada and across the globe in developing and implementing strategies for addressing these as well as related issues.

 As Past President of CASWE-ACFTS, I want to thank all of you for the recognition of my service to the Association at the June Annual Meeting. It was very moving experience for me, and I am grateful to the members of the Women’s Caucus who organized the event. I also want to thank all of you for the enthusiastic support and constructive feedback that I received over the course of my Presidency since 2012.

I appreciated the opportunity to serve as your president over the past few years. I learned a lot of new things and met many wonderful people. There were also opportunities for personal growth and development, and my leadership skills grew considerably. I feel proud of what we accomplished and look forward to my continued work with Dixon and the BOD in support of this vibrant Association. I have two more years as a member of the Board of Directors and will continue to serve as Co-Chair of the Educational Policy Committee. I look forward to working with many of you in these capacities.

Wishing everyone a good summer

Carolyn Campbell and Dixon Sookraj