A message from Darrel Gregory
It’s an honour to be the Executive Director of an organization like Caregivers Alberta. When I first saw the opportunity to do this work, I viewed it as a chance to make an impact in the lives of people who are caregivers in Alberta. In my past, working with the MS Society of Canada, I met many amazing and resilient caregivers. I saw the challenges they face and recognized the importance of providing them with better support than they currently have.
Building Caregivers Alberta’s capacity to provide the resources caregivers need – across rural and urban communities – is our number one priority. There are one million unpaid family caregivers in this province. That’s one million people potentially struggling with feeling overwhelmed, unheard, unsupported, isolated and financially pressured.
Through outreach, I plan to ask Albertans who are caregivers what they need, and how and where they need it. This is the only way we can be sure we are responding to their challenges with the support that will make a difference.
The journey of a caregiver is a unique and bumpy one. There are many mountains to climb, unanticipated corners to turn, and no one roadmap to guide them on their way. Without the economic contribution and health-care support of our unpaid, family caregivers, our province and its people would truly be in trouble. Caregivers Alberta is working to ensure each individual we connect with, gets the resources, support, sense of community connection and empowerment they need to stay healthy through their road ahead.
Darrel Gregory, Executive Director
I’d like to build capacity, make sure we’re reaching people and providing the appropriate services when and where they're needed.
Darrel Gregory has over 20 years of senior leadership experience in the nonprofit sector. Over the last 15 years he was a Director with the MS Society of Canada. His communications and strategic skills helped propel Alberta to lead the MS Society in fundraising success for several years. Based in Calgary for the last five years of his tenure with the MS Society, Darrel led the Society’s Southern Alberta Division through a challenging economic environment. He is an innovator, a relationship builder and, above all, fiercely committed to his teams and the people he is surrounded with, both professionally and personally.
What attracted you to the job of Executive Director of Caregivers Alberta?
Coming from the MS Society, where I spent the last 15 years of my career, I got the opportunity to meet so many caregivers for people with living with MS. They were just the most amazing and resilient people that I’ve come across. When I saw the opportunity with Caregivers Alberta, I had some knowledge of the challenges that caregivers face; it can be a very difficult, important journey. I thought, if I could play some small role in helping us get better at supporting them, I wanted to do that.
I saw an opportunity for me to make an impact in the lives of people who are caregivers for Albertans.
What are your hopes for the organization under your leadership?
One of the big things I’m interested in is building capacity within Caregivers Alberta, as well as leveraging what we have in order to do more. It’s easier to connect with people in the larger centres – like Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer – but what about in rural communities? How do we connect with and support folks there? We need to make sure they’re getting the resources that they need. Do we need to find better, innovative ways of doing things? Do we need to invest in new technologies?
I also want to hear from Albertans who are caregivers and understand what they need. Doing a needs assessment, and asking people what they need from us, allows us to make sure that we are responding to their needs.
Summing it up, I’d like to build capacity, make sure we’re reaching people, and make sure we’re providing the appropriate services when and where people need them.
What areas of Alberta have you lived and worked in?
I’ve been in Edmonton most of my working life. I did spend five years in Calgary with the MS Society. I did spend a fair bit of time travelling around the province when I was with the MS Society, so, I know the grassroots potential of small-town, rural Alberta. They have a keen sense of community involvement there that would support an organization like ours, but they’re also a group who need better access to the resources and support Caregivers Alberta has to offer. I’m very enthusiastic about connecting all communities – large and small – throughout the province and making sure they are getting what they need from us by listening to them and what they need in their journey as a caregiver.
How important is advocacy around policy in the private and public sector to your work with Caregivers Alberta?
You may have heard the popular phrase in the non-profit sector, “Nothing about us, without us.” So, people who are caregivers have to be factored in to the equation. Once I’ve ensured that we’re taking care of our core responsibilities to caregivers, I’m going to want to create a framework through which we can hear from caregivers directly to help inform and shape all of our work going forward – including advocacy on their behalf.
What would you like our partner organizations to know about you and your future work with them?
The way I look at it is, the world’s problems – including challenges we face right here in Alberta and in the non-profit sector – in terms of quality of life, cannot be solved by any one organization alone. It is through current partnerships, and building new partnerships and bridges, that we will find more efficient, impactful ways of doing things. That’s the only way we’re all going to be able to deliver; one organization cannot do it all with just their own resources. So, I’m keen to get to know our partners, and discover how we can collaborate in order to serve the people we serve.
I’m a big proponent of collaboration and finding ways that make us better, our partners better, and our constituents able to achieve the quality of life they want and deserve.