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National Board Finalizes Strategic Plan


L to R: 1st VP Chris Gainor, 2nd VP Robyn  Foret, Dr. Wilma Slenders, Executive Director Randy Attwood, President Craig Levine

The National Board of the RASC met in Calgary at the Sheraton Cavalier on 18/19 March to finalize the Strategic Plan. We identified the primary goals, assigned actions to each, assigned each action a “champion” to supervise that activity, established measurables, and set deadlines. We are determined to transform the RASC. We intend:

1: To ensure that our front office staff are adequately trained and have access to the right tools and skills

2: To become a conduit for the professional astronomical community to reach out to the public

3: To be the national brand for astronomy in Canada

4: To be stewards of night sky and the earth under it

5: To provide educator consumable material to be used in classrooms across Canada

6: To develop and mentor volunteers within the RASC

7: To become the premier link for all astronomy in Canada

8: To build collaborative communities united behind common purpose

9: To assist in developing Centre leadership and foster Centre development

10. To make the RASC a safe, inclusive, welcoming environment

11. To ensure that RASC finances are sustainable

Dr. Slenders, our facilitator, is now polishing up the results and we’ll be turning this into a presentation for the Presidents and Committees at a meeting on 22 April.

The Board would like to thank the Sunshine Coast Centre for its feedback and input, which was very helpful to us in this planning process.

Charles Ennis, National Secretary

National Board Strategic Planning Session: 10 – 11 September, 2016


R to L: Chris Gainor, James Edgar, Craig Levine, Randy Boddam, and Dr. Wilma Slenders

On the weekend of 10 – 11 September, 2016, the National Board of the RASC met at the Royal Executive Hotel in Calgary to conduct a strategic planning session with Dr. Wilma Slenders, PhD, of Transcend Management Advisors, Inc. 2nd Vice President Robyn Foret set up this session which all national board members attended. National President Craig Levine described this as “Our opportunity to look at what we do with a critical eye and to look at how we can engage more deeply with membership and centres. This could be a generational change. Who do we want to be?… Everything we do from this is going to be time lined, budgeted, with accountability, and measurements. We need to keep each other and committee chairs accountable.” Colin Haig observed: “We need to bake follow up into everything we do”. Robyn Foret explained: “We need to use resources properly. What do we need from 2017 budget to accomplish this objective? There is a lot to be done to do this right.” Treasurer Susan Yeo said: “We need to focus on succession, make sure members have the tools that they need to carry on. We are not a corporation with people here for long term.” Levine agreed, adding that we need an on boarding process and mentoring process.


Colin Haig reminded us that this is the 3rd time we’ve gone through strategic planning process. This was a different approach from previous strategic planning exercises in that the national board sought outside help to facilitate the session. We did this because, as Robyn Foret reminded us, “We don’t know what we don’t know”.


The object of the session was to decide what we wanted the RASC to look like in 5 years in order to remain viable, relevant and sustainable.


Our organization has a charity mentality, tending to place emphasis on costs rather than investment. We are not comfortable with thriving. Only recently have we started to embrace mindset changes such as the creation of a fundraising committee and sponsorships. We are coming to realize that the national board is a hybrid board, not a governance board, with multiple audiences with different needs.


A lot of work was done identifying the RASC’s target audience and the means to serve these audiences. We looked at our members, competitors, collaborators and supporters.


The national board realizes that it is time to, as Randy Boddam put it, “socialize new norms” to make our organization more welcoming to different cultures, ethnic groups, and all genders.


The board did a serious inventory of our organization at present, focusing on the following:

  • How do we do what we do?
  • How do we hold ourselves accountable?
  • How do we work with one another?
  • What are the characteristics of our organization?
  • What do people say about us?
  • What do we do?
  • What do we offer?
  • What don’t we offer?
  • Who are we?
  • Who do we serve?
  • Who don’t we serve?


We also did a PEST (Political, Economic, Social, Technological) analysis to help us prioritize the key areas that we need to focus on. We then focused on the same questions we looked at earlier, but from a viewpoint of what we wanted the organization to look like in the future.


Robyn Foret described this process as “evolution not revolution” but it certainly will mark a change in how the RASC does things in the future. The national board will meet again soon to take what we discovered in this meeting and turn it into an action plan with deadlines and people to manage and measure progress.


Charles Ennis, National Secretary