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Posted by on Aug 2021 in All Stories, Features, Sector leadership, Slider, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Leading the future of community housing: The 2021 ONPHA Conference

ONPHA. Nov 10-12 2021. Opening doors through housing.

We’re gearing up for the 2021 ONPHA Conference, taking place in our brand-new virtual space, November 10-12. This year’s theme, Opening doors through housing invites you to consider excellence and innovation, both in our operational practices and the future of our sector as a whole. 

Our Conference program is geared towards community housing professionals specializing in everything from property management to senior leadership, and designed around our strategic objectives:  

  • Cohesive sector leadership 
  • A people-centred housing system 
  • Building a sustainable sector 

Read on to get a preview of day one of the 2021 Conference and to hear ONPHA CEO Marlene Coffey’s insights into how we’ll examine systemic solutions and prepare for the future of the community housing sector. 

Leading your organization and your community 

The first day of the 2021 ONPHA Conference will examine this year’s theme, Opening doors through housing, through the lens of leadership. 

Headshot of Waneek Horn-Miller, 2021 ONPHA Conference Opening Keynote Speaker.
Waneek Horn-Miller, 2021 Opening Keynote Speaker

We’ll start our day off with an opening keynote address from Waneek Horn-Miller, Olympian, Activist, and Speaker on Indigenous Reconciliation. You won’t want to miss this powerful speaker address the topic of Indigenous reconciliation and its critical role in our multicultural society and the importance of including diverse voices at the table to build inclusivity and reconciliation into your organizations and our society. 

Day one’s sessions will help you understand the bigger picture. We’ll welcome housing experts from across the province and the country to discuss: 

  • Canada’s affordable housing landscape 
  • human-centred solutions for community housing 
  • unique collaborations to increase affordable housing stock 
  • the importance of implementing anti-racist initiatives in your organization 
  • best practices and change management for boards 
  • non-profit partnerships with municipal government, and more! 

Examining ‘leadership’ with Marlene Coffey 

‘Leadership’ is a wide-ranging topic with a variety of different meanings. In the context of community housing, it can mean leading a team that works to serve the needs of your community, leading by innovating new solutions that can be held up as an example for the sector, or leading an organization through change, among other things. 

ONPHA CEO Marlene Coffey onstage at the 2019 ONPHA Conference
ONPHA CEO Marlene Coffey

On the meaning of leadership, ONPHA CEO Marlene Coffey says, “Leadership is about keeping your eye on the horizon; looking around, surveying the landscape, understanding the forces of change and figuring out how to connect the dots. Leadership is about positive change, building momentum and being authentic. You truly have to believe in what you’re wanting to achieve and enabling others. In that, finding partners who will come along can lead to tremendous impact for the greater good and shared horizon”. 

Marlene sees similarities in the approach one takes in leading an organization and leading the sector: “There’s a big responsibility in listening to what stakeholders really need and want”, she says, “and being able to put yourself aside, so it’s never about a personal goal, rather it’s about the collective win and finding the golden threads that move stakeholders together in change leadership”. 

Of the relevance of this year’s Conference theme and Day one’s focus on leadership, Marlene says: “This is a really special time in that we’re looking to build a system for the next 30 years. We really want to get it right in terms of the policy framework that we set for the sectors’ funding model and the long-term sustainability of community housing. What we do now will be the legacy for the next generation. There’s a huge amount of responsibility – and excitement, I have to say – in terms of the positive impact we can have for building the future”. 

Marlene feels energized by this year’s Conference program, telling us, “What’s different about this year, is that there’s a real social conscience with our renewed strategy for community housing – ONPHA’s three year strategy – and that’s about putting people at the centre of systems. I know this sounds really simple, but the distinction is that instead of figuring out what we can afford to do based on a budget, we’re turning a process inside out and saying: ‘what does the tenant need at the centre of that system, and how do we build the supports around them to ensure their success?’ Our strategy speaks to putting people at the centre of a system and the Conference program is designed around that. This year there’s a real emphasis on anti-racism, truth and reconciliation for Indigenous communities, and building a robust sector that is sustainable long-term”.  

Did you find a creative way to address a challenge within the past year? Be a thought leader and share the project you’re most proud of for a chance to be part of our 2021 Innovation Showcase, sponsored by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Submissions are due Friday, August 13. 

Check out our website to find more information about the 2021 ONPHA Conference, the program, and the speakers. We hope to see you in our virtual Conference space this fall! 

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