In Leadership

Innovating ideas with Western Canada’s top minds in affordable housing is another place M’akola CEO Kevin Albers has been making a difference.

As a professionally designated accountant, CPA, Albers sees the CIH designation for housing professionals as an important maturation of the sector and an acknowledgment of the level of sophistication required to operate and manage affordable housing in these transformative times.

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) launched its debut Western Founders Program this past fall. Three sessions are held over a four month period, streamlining the leaders to earn the Gold Seal for housing professionals: CIH Canada Chartered designation. This will be awarded to Albers in January 2016.

“Kevin was selected to be in the program because he is a leader in affordable housing and this is the highest designation meant for leaders in the sector. This is not a ‘how-to’ it’s an opportunity for leaders to step outside of operations and to step outside of the sector. This is about challenging the status quo,” said Lisa Kotsopoulos, General Manager CIH Canada.

Albers sees these opportunities as ways to work on the organization and not in it. “It allows us to take the time to think strategically while learning and sharing with our peers,” said Albers. “It’s very powerful and valuable.”

This is the first time it’s being offered in the West and Kotsopoulos mentioned it might be the only time. The Western Founders program is developed for professionals with a high-calibre skillset and an astute understanding of the housing sector.

While this is the first time it’s been offered in the West it’s been held in Ontario twice. With the housing sector rapidly changing, the program has also changed each time it’s being offered.

“The Western Founders program is being modified between Sessions 2 and 3,” Kotsopoulos explained adding the program adapts as the sector changes to keep it up-to-date with innovative ideas.

Throughout the program Albers and the rest of his colleagues will cover Transformational Change, Learning Today and Leading Tomorrow and Defining a New Future. The facilitators are international housing leaders from England and Australia.

“These are all housing leaders in the sector and they are here to inspire others,” Kotsopoulos said.

A key component to this program is not within the curriculum. Each of the selected founders are able learn and strategize with each other.

“There aren’t many opportunities for Kevin to spend this much time and have the dedicated space to network with colleagues of a similar level,” Kotsopoulos said. “CIH is here to help support and create the space for this to happen.”

The 36 leaders selected for this program are CEOs and Executive Directors from various organizations from BC, Alberta and Winnipeg.

“I’ve had someone from (our Ontario program) tell me they implemented practices that they heard from another participant and it’s already saved them tens of thousands of dollars,” Kotsopoulos said. “This is not about reinventing the wheel it’s about sharing and gaining leverage from the knowledge. This is more than a course. ”

CIH Canada has been able to offer the Western Founders Program through partnerships with BC Non-Profit Housing Association, Alberta Public Housing Administrators’ Association and Manitoba Housing.

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