"We are overjoyed to have Farheen and Steffi join the board," explains Mathur. "Both new directors have expressed strong interest in the work we do with abused women, as well as in honouring and acknowledging the great work of our counselling team in general. Between them we hope to improve BILS' profile externally and its business relationships and process internally over the coming months".
BILS' assistance to Canadian women recovering from physical, emotional, financial and other forms of abuse since 1997 will need to increase if recent research is proven accurate. Just earlier this year the Canadian Womens' Foundation communicated that 79 per cent of Canadians believe that sexual assault will continue at current levels for those women born after 1999. Already, only 30 per cent of abuse against women is ever reported to Canadian authorities, and women are four times as likely to be killed by their male spouse than men are by their female spouse. Equally, continued geopolitical activity by the United States and its NATO allies throughout the Middle East and other natural resource-rich areas of the planet will guarantee a continued stream of war refugees entering Canada, the USA, and Western Europe for the foreseeable future.
Farheen Lakhani, a lifelong sales, account, and relationship management professional, enters this tumultuous climate as board director tasked both with cultivating new relationships, and maintaining existing relationships with key stakeholders. Lakhani's focus is likely to be both internal and external, liaising with the BILS' counselling team to ensure high standards of counselling service are maintained, as well as with current and potential partner agencies. Her strengths in data analytics will also be applied to BILS' marketing, particularly online, in the future months as BILS secures further expertise to maintain its communications and development efforts.
BILS is not the first altruistic initiative for Lakhani to be involved in, having previously helped recent immigrants via the Diversity & Inclusion Committee at Aimia, as well as championing womens' independence and recovery in Thailand. In her own words, "Assistance-style services often focus on providing food and shelter to victims, but rarely counselling too. BILS differs from the norm by also providing clients with the necessary counselling to develop coping skills and abilities to not only deal with trauma, but also fend for themselves in the future. It's a truly holistic program offering, and I intend to assist BILS in both measuring and communicating its astonishingly positive impact on the community."
As such it's not difficult to see how and why Black fits so well with the BILS board's intentions. However, Black's affinity with kindness belies her tenacity when it comes to serving positivity. As Black says of her appointment, "I hope to bring a positive and proactive work ethic to help make the necessary changes for BILS to grow, as well as fostering a warm and connected work environment that ensures our programs and projects stay on the front line of serving the most vulnerable demographics within the GTA population". Black goes on to explain that her choice to join BILS stems from her desire to make a difference, give back, and champion the great work of the counselling team.
Initially Black's expertise is intended to be deployed in improving internal communications and process, and ensuring HR practices are up-to-date and forward-looking. From some point in 2018 though, it is hoped that Black will be able to assist BILS with both fundraising and outreach efforts, bringing to bear an extraordinarily widespread, optimistic, and women-dominated network that mirrors the ethos of many of the organisation's program and project offerings. Indeed, a mutually beneficial arrangement may also see Black augmenting her own counselling skills as she seeks the opportunity to support BILS counsellors in their work more directly.
Radical changes to the BILS board during the last year are only the first stage of an organisational revamp intended to bolster the stability of the 46 year-old non-profit. As further recruitment expands and deepens the board's expertise, additional plans to improve operational process, external communications, and even review the BILS brand itself are expected to come online. Further focus on IT and the honing of digital systems will be one of the soonest improvements to gain traction during the end of 2017 and first quarter of 2018.