Debbie Berg became Executive Director of Cowichan Women Against Violence Society on October 29, 2018.
Berg has a Master’s degree in counselling and is registered as a Master Practitioner of Clinical Counselling. She has extensive experience in management and director roles with non-profits beginning in 1998. Her background includes counselling, housing management, quality improvement, addictions services, program development, human resources, education/training and business owner.
During her children’s school years, Debbie became a private educator, homeschooling her children along with other students who had learning differences. Her success with children led to working with the school district in developing and serving as chairperson of an alternate school where homeschool parents could have their children taught Math and English in a classroom setting. She also became mentor to parents with children struggling in the traditional school setting, helping them with their children’s learning differences.
Along with her husband, Stephen, Debbie championed the development of a residential single mother’s project known as AARMAC (Assisting At Risk Mothers and Children) which assisted young single mom’s in completing high school, a post secondary course and acquiring employment.
After completing her Master’s, Berg became employed as HR Manager for Hope Mission, an Edmonton inner-city agency that served all ages with shelters, programs, food and advocacy. This position included supporting and mentoring managers along with the staff of children’s camps, a skate park, food programs in schools, youth, women’s and men’s shelters, a one-year addictions program for men and another for women, and second stage housing for both men and women.
The next step in her career led to becoming manager and then director of the George Spady Society funded through Alberta Health Services which provided low-barrier shelter to men and women along with a non-medical detox center. Berg championed an innovative project known as SpadyPOD (Place of Dignity) that was the first of its kind in Western Canada. This project served street entrenched individuals with substance abuse and medical challenges by giving them long-term to end of life supportive housing in a harm reduction model. Strong connections to the Royal Alexander Hospital were developed with Berg serving on a committee that developed a Managed Alcohol Program for the RAH. Berg also served on the HUOS (Heavy Users of Systems) committee alongside Edmonton Police and Emergency Services, the City of Edmonton, various agencies, Alberta Health Services, Human Services, and REACH. This included being invited to join two fact finding trips to Vancouver and Toronto to learn from their police services about inner city challenges and solutions.
With a desire to move to Victoria, the roots of her husband’s youth, Berg accepted a position with Our Place Society working as their Director of Housing. Her projects were heavily focused on working with the tent city residents and BC Housing. Along with 2 transitional shelters and a night shelter, Berg also oversaw a Transitional Residential Program and a Pre-employment program.
Nature has a strong influence in Berg’s life beginning with being raised on an Alberta farm. She loves hiking and biking with her husband and family, as well as attempting a permaculture lifestyle along with gardening. Creative renovation and building projects have been one of her go-to therapies.
Debbie has been married to her husband Stephen since 1986. She is the mother of 3 grown children, Justin (Michelle), Teryl (Mateo) and Mark, as well as proud stepmom to Michael and Lucas (Jamie) along with step-granddaughter Madison (Carter).
Jan Bate joined the team at Cowichan Women Against Violence as the Resource Development Director in March 2020.
Jan has over 30 years of experience in the not-for-profit sector with a focus on community development, inter-cultural relations, trauma-informed employment training, women’s safety, anti-violence, and fundraising. Jan’s leadership practice is rooted solidly in principles of collaboration, transparency, analysis of power and privilege, and support for the creativity, generosity and leadership in all people.
While living in Tofino Jan worked at the Westcoast Women’s Resources Society in a variety of roles at the transition house, women’s centre, and children’s support services. Ultimately Jan became the agency’s first Executive Director, responsible for strategic planning, board development, program management, financial management, human resource management, and community representation. She is proud to have worked with the dynamic service providers on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and to have supported the emergence of community planning and service integration processes through the Coastal Family Resource Coalition.
In 2007 Jan moved to Victoria to accept the position of Executive Director at Bridges for Women Society. There she strategically developed programs and secured funding for many programs including the Online Bridging Program and the Mentoring Program, based on the needs of the clientele, the organization and community relationships. When the Employment Program of BC was initiated Jan successfully negotiated numerous contracts and sub-contracts with large-scale businesses across Victoria and the province.
From 2015 – 2018 Jan was the Co-Director of Development at RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs), where she raised significant funding and support for indigenous nations in BC and Alberta. Jan developed and stewarded the Circle of Allies monthly donors, while writing appeals for core operations, and coordinating annual donor appreciation events.
Jan’s education includes a Master of Arts in Leadership and Training from Royal Roads University (2006); a certificate from the Justice Institute in Feminist Management (2004); graduation from the Essentials of Fundraising Program at Camosun College (2008); and Certification as a Professional Coactive Coach from the Coaches Training Institute (2014).
With a passion for the performing arts, Jan coordinated the annual Victoria Flamenco Festival from 2013 – 2018, and produced many flamenco shows during this time as well. Jan continues to study, sing and dance in the flamenco artform, and to bring her love of dance into her daily life. The words of Emma Goldman remain true for Jan: “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”