Distress Centres of Greater Toronto

Executive Director
Posted Date: 
Monday, August 19, 2019
Closing Date: 
Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Opportunity

Distress Centres of Greater Toronto is seeking an Executive Director to lead the strategy, team, and operations of our multi-site agency. Reporting to the Board of our newly-merged entity, the Executive Director will work closely with our dedicated and passionate volunteer leaders and staff members to push forward on key strategic objectives.

Like many not for profit organizations, we are facing significant change in our environment. For Distress Centres of Greater Toronto, our ‘new’ reality includes increasing societal needs for mental health support services, growing cultural diversification in our communities, rapidly changing technology that is shifting communication channels with clients, commuting challenges for volunteers and staff, and changes in the funding models of some supporters. We recognize that many of these trends represent headwinds that will require us to focus our efforts differently in the future.

As we look forward, the Board is seeking an Executive Director who has the skills, experience, and mindset to position Distress Centres of Greater Toronto for sustainable growth in services delivered and in revenues over the coming years, while maintaining the excellence in service delivery for which we are known. This will include:

  1. Building a singular organization and culture, Distress Centres of Greater Toronto, while at the same time capturing and implementing efficiencies available due to the recent merger
  2. Increasing brand awareness, and awareness of the importance of mental health support
  3. Securing additional stable revenue from funding partners, and growing individual giving
  4. Increasing fee-for-service and ancillary revenue streams
  5. Expanding services in pace with revenue growth, and improving delivery of existing services
  6. Enhancing and leveraging technology
  7. Growing the volunteer base


Please note that this role can be primarily based in either of our locations at 7700 Hurontario Street, Brampton or 10 Trinity Square, Toronto. Regular presence at all sites is expected in order to connect with staff and volunteers at each location.


About Distress Centres of Greater Toronto

Since 1967 Distress Centres have provided confidential 24-hour telephone support, 365 days a year, without a missed shift. Hundreds of thousands of calls later, Distress Centres continues to provide response services at no cost to those experiencing emotional distress or in need of crisis intervention and suicide prevention; and face-to-face support to people dealing with the effects of suicide and homicide.

In May 2019, Distress Centres (Toronto) merged with Spectra Helpline (Peel) to create Distress Centres of Greater Toronto. The missions of both organizations naturally aligned as they worked to ensure that every individual in need of emotional support or crisis intervention has access to life-sustaining care. Our recently merged organization has created a comprehensive system of response services to include:

  • 11 telephone-based, inbound and outbound support services;
  • Multilingual support in 7 languages;
  • Elder Abuse and TeleCheck services for seniors and their families;
  • Programs for the LGBTQ2S community and people with physical challenges;
  • In-person group support for those affected by loss as a result of homicide and/or suicide;
  • Collaborative services with a network of partners including emergency response and public transit along with community and health agencies to create a continuum of care and support;
  • Public education to increase awareness and access across the GTA of vital programs and services.


The new Distress Centres of Greater Toronto has reinforced its important role mitigating the mental health crisis by supporting community members at risk through an enhanced breadth and expanded reach of diverse, culturally competent services.

With a budget of just under $2M, five sites in Toronto and Peel, and a staff team of 25, we are extremely grateful for and dependent on more than 500 active, dedicated volunteers who give up a few hours every week to provide comfort and support to clients and callers.

Additional Information


The Ideal Candidate

Exhibiting strong business management acumen and oversight, the ideal candidate will translate the Board’s strategic directives into actionable priorities with clear objectives, timelines, and measurable outcomes. The Executive Director will work with the various site teams to come together around a blended and unified mission, vision, values, as well as goals, services, and organizational culture. With the input of board, staff, and partners, the successful candidate will ensure that services are provided in the most effective and sustainable manner to best serve our diverse clientele across our multiple locations.

Capable of organizing many moving pieces, the Executive Director will be practical about putting strategy into action, prioritizing and focusing on essential needs first. The new incumbent will systematically review strategic priorities, structure, goals, and roles in our new blended organization, and will determine with staff how to best drive efficiencies in a merged organization. Persistent and patient, the ideal candidate will have a track record of success in leading and managing through organizational change and challenges.

The successful candidate will establish a clear vision and priorities for employees, and will lead with integrity, humility, hard work, and dedication. Our staff team is very strong, and deserves a leader who will engage, support, trust, and respect them. The ideal candidate will possess strong leadership skills, including the ability to develop people and encourage them in achieving success. Appreciative of the skills, time, and efforts of staff and volunteers, the Executive Director will involve others in making intentional and effective changes across the organization. Assertive and results-oriented, the new incumbent will bring a sense of urgency and encouragement, and will provide staff with transparency about expectations and decisions.

Credible and competent, the successful candidate will quickly gain the trust of staff and the Board. The Executive Director will leverage the expertise of the Board and other volunteers to maximize their contributions to the agency, and to tap into their networks.

Serving as one of the ‘faces’ of our organization, the ideal candidate will be an authentic and confident communicator. The Executive Director will help us to broaden DCGT’s presence within the mental health space, to a level that is more commensurate with our role as a leader and influencer. Consequently, experience working or volunteering in a mental health-focused social service agency would be an asset in this role. Marketing and public relations experience would also be helpful in raising the profile of the organization, both in terms of supporting clients and attracting volunteers, and vis a vis donors and funders.

The ideal candidate will bring previous experience with the types of funders who support our agency, as well as significant previous involvement in fundraising and grant-seeking efforts. Innovative and financially savvy, the successful candidate will have a track-record of augmenting traditional funding with relevant earned revenues. Ensuring that the organization is accountable to its clients, funders, and Board, the Executive Director will understand how to track and report on information needed to demonstrate our progress and our excellence. The ideal candidate will also bring an understanding of how to leverage technology to improve, expand, and standardize and modernize services.

In addition to having a passion for and commitment to addressing mental health needs in society, the ideal candidate will have previous experience serving as an Executive Director, working with and supporting a volunteer Board.


Key Duties & Responsibilities

The Executive Director holds the key leadership position in the agency. Under the authority of the Board, the Executive Director is responsible for implementing and furthering the strategic orientations and initiatives, vision, mission and values of the agency. The Executive Director has the authority to direct the implementation of the agency’s Board Approved Annual Plan and Budget including all programs and services, and is directly responsible for the management of and ultimately for the overall wellbeing of all other staff members and volunteers.

Summary of Responsibilities:

  • Provides the leadership and vision, in conjunction with the Board, for the long term direction of the agency including the development, furtherance and implementation of the agency’s vision, mission, values and strategic orientations and initiatives.
  • Champions and represents the agency to all community (municipal, provincial and national) stakeholders.
  • Responsible for overall revenue of the agency, including earned revenue, grants, sponsorships, partnerships, and philanthropy.
  • In conjunction with the fundraising staff, works to establish the most senior level of relationships with existing and potential funders, sponsors, and donors to open doors, build and realize fundraising opportunities, and maintain ongoing relationships.
  • Oversees the day-to-day operations of the agency and ensures they are consistent with all agency policies and procedures.
  • Manages financial resources to ensure the ongoing and sustainable financial status of DCGT.
  • In conjunction with Agency staff, analyzes and evaluates the effectiveness of all agency operations.
  • Serves on each of the active Committees of the Board and acts as the sounding board to ensure all policies and decisions are consistent with the Agency’s overall direction.


Long Term Strategic Direction of the Agency:

  • Annually updates Long Term Strategic Plan including review of Mission, Vision and Values. This includes the identification of emerging issues, an environmental review of the changing needs of the community that is served by the agency, a “competitive” review, community (municipal, provincial, national) funding changes and issues, Agency opportunities, Agency strengths and weaknesses and longer term strategic issues and opportunities. This should be developed in conjunction with the Board Strategic Planning Committee and reviewed with the entire Board upon its completion.
  • As part of the Annual Planning and Budget processes, sets specific agency goals and outcomes. Reviews with the Board on an annual basis for input and approval.
  • As part of the Annual Plan and Budget, identifies the required staffing, technology and funding needs to meet annual goals.
  • Works with Agency staff as required to help develop and implement operational plans, procedures, programs and services, and is ultimately responsible for approving and ensuring that they are consistent with the Board’s policies and the agency’s mission, values, vision and strategic plan.



  • Serves as the leader and champion of the agency amongst all external stakeholders.
  • Works in collaboration with the Board, staff and volunteers to achieve agency goals.
  • Encourages the development of a positive work environment and culture by facilitating open communication, innovation and positive relationships with staff and volunteers.
  • Inspires and motivates direct staff to participate fully in agency activities.
  • Serves on and provides guidance to each of the active Committees of the Board.


Community and Sector Engagement:

  • Promotes awareness of the agency’s mission and vision within the community, and within any sector that aligns with the agency’s mission, vision, values and strategic orientations and initiatives, in order to consolidate the agency’s position as a recognized leader in the area of crisis response including suicide prevention, crisis management and postvention.
  • Engages with community stakeholders with respect to monitoring and responding to changing needs and conditions of the community that is served by the agency.
  • Participates in networking and in community and sector relations activities on behalf of the agency.
  • Shares best practices and expertise with organizations with related causes and concerns.
  • Builds strong relationships with stakeholders within the community and sector.
  • Acts as an advocate for the agency and its programs in the community and in the sector (including the national and local mental health movement).
  • Facilitates a communication plan that informs the community and sector of the activities, directions and outcomes of the agency.
  • Seeks public speaking opportunities within the community and sector.
  • Seeks leadership opportunities within the community and sector.


Policy Management and Implementation:

  • Oversees the day-to-day operations of the agency including staff’s implementation of agency policies.
  • Works with the Board on governance policy issues by executing board-approved policies, recommending best practice changes to policies as they arise and recommending any needed new policies.
  • Establishes procedures, controls and evaluative processes for the agency consistent with best practices and policies established by the Board.


Program Management:

  • Oversees and facilitates as needed the research, planning, development, implementation and evaluation of programs and services.
  • Approves program/service goals.
  • Ensures that programs and services reflect the agency’s strategic orientations and initiatives and the agency’s mission, values and vision.


Financial Management:

  • Recommends and implements the agency’s budget approved by the Board and the Board’s policies for the allocation of resources, stewardship of existing funders and the cultivation and diversification of funding sources.
  • Maintains full awareness of the complete financial, statistical and accounting records of the agency in accordance with board policies.
  • Ensures that the Board is provided with regular statements of revenues and expenditures.
  • Alerts the Board to all significant variances from the approved Budget.
  • Initiates and in conjunction with staff, prepares the Annual Budget for Board approval.


Human Resources Management:

  • Reviews and determines staffing and service volunteer requirements for agency management and program delivery, and supports staff and volunteer retention efforts.
  • Hires, supervises, evaluates and releases salaried staff.
  • Ensures that staff and volunteers receive appropriate training for their roles.
  • Sets specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-limited goals as part of an annual review process.
  • Supports staff retention and talent management through coaching, individual professional development, monitoring performance and encouraging staff initiatives.
  • Provides regular, appropriate and constructive feedback.


Risk Management:

  • Evaluates the assets and liabilities of programs, services, proposals and strategies.
  • Identifies and evaluates risks and opportunities.
  • Assesses, on an ongoing basis, risks to the agency’s financial stability, public image and growth.
  • Provides regular, reliable and comparable reports on the agency’s progress.


For More Information

KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.) is excited to be working with this new organization to conduct a search for their inaugural Executive Director.

For more information, please contact Tara George, Partner / Lead, KCI Search + Talent or Samantha David, Senior Search Consultant by email at DCGT@kcitalent.com.

To view full position brief please visit: kciphilanthropy.com/kci-talent/

All inquiries and applications will be held in strict confidence.

Candidates interested in exploring this opportunity should please submit resume and letter of interest to the email address above by September 15, 2019.

Distress Centres of Greater Toronto provides equal opportunity in employment and encourages applications from all qualified candidates. A Criminal Records Check and a Vulnerable Sector Check will be required for this position.