Past and present leaders of the CVCDA at Joanne’s farewell party. L-R: Lorraine Aitken (past executive director), Joanne Schroeder (outgoing executive director), Cindy Xavier (new executive director), and Pam Crowe (president of the CVCDA board of directors).

Passing the torch: Comox Valley Child Development Association executive director Joanne Schroeder retires

This past month, the Comox Valley Child Development Association (CVCDA) said farewell to its executive director of the last six years. Joanne Schroeder originally took over the role in June 2014. She has since led the organization through many exciting initiatives and projects. Schroeder has left the CVCDA to get a start on her retirement.

“Joanne had big shoes to fill when she started as our executive director,” said CVCDA board chair Pam Crowe. “However, she stepped into the position with determination and enthusiasm and succeeded in every way. She masterly guided the CVCDA through two successful CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) accreditations, resulting in the CVCDA continuing to receive the highest accreditation of three years in each case. Not that that result was ever in doubt in our minds. Joanne’s strong leadership and knowledge at our monthly board meetings has been so much appreciated by all of the board members. She is organized and always so well prepared to answer any question. Especially, when it comes to interpreting acronyms.”

Schroeder’s most recent and perhaps most high profile accomplishment was of course steering the CVCDA through to the successful construction and exciting opening of the new Comox Valley Autism Centre.

“It was, as Joanne would say, a huge team effort. But we know, every Team requires a leader and certainly Joanne was that!”

Schroeder has represented the CVCDA on many high profile committees in the Valley. Her collaborative approach and genuine care for children and families has ensured continued solid relationships with all the CVCDA business and community partners, and its provincial and federal representatives.

“As a board, we will miss her,” added Crowe. “We will miss our meetings together at various places during Telethon time, our visits to our many wonderful service clubs, especially at telethon time, and just generally working with her on a day to day basis – it has indeed been a privilege.”

“It is bittersweet for me to be leaving the CVCDA”, said Schroeder. “My time in this role has allowed me to be part of a thriving and generous community of children, families, staff and volunteers. It has been a wonderful experience. I am particularly proud of the completion of the new Comox Valley Autism Centre, and the expansion and introduction of several programs. The CVCDA has always played a leadership role in the community and I have appreciated the chance to continue this tradition through my participation in the Early Years Collaborative, the Local Action team, the Local Hero initiative, and the Social Planning Committee. It is through these partnerships that we most effectively leverage meaningful action for our children and families.”

In announcing her retirement in 2019, Joanne made it her personal mission to oversee the selection process of her successor and to ensure a smooth transition. She felt it imperative to find just the right fit for such a meaningful organization to her and so many. CVCDA’s new executive director, Cindy Xavier, was selected just before Christmas and also joined the team this past month.

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