After five years, Pamela McLean will be leaving the role of executive director of the Okotoks Food Bank.

As such, the organization is now looking for someone to replace her in the role.

McLean says the deciding factor for her decision was that the food bank is approaching the end of its current strategic plan.

"When I started, the board and I had put a five-year strategic plan together and, believe it or not, we've done it all. Everything on that plan, we've been able to accomplish, so it's time for a new plan. I refuse to commit to something I won't be finishing, and I know that I don't have the capacity to commit to a five-year plan or even a three-year plan. I spoke to the board and let them know that I have a husband at home who's been retired now for over three years, and he's been so patiently waiting."

Moving to a new location, navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, and a volunteer shortage were among the challenges faced by the food bank in the last five years.

Given the tumultuous set of circumstances hurled at the organization during her time as executive director, McLean is recommending a different approach to planning.

"It'll be good for our food bank to have a fresh set of eyes. Honestly, this new strategic plan, I'm recommending that it be a three-year plan because that will allow for a lot of flexibility. There's just so much going on in our world right now. I think a strategic plan is necessary, but it is also vital that it has enough flexibility built into it so that our food bank can deal with whatever is thrown at it in the next few years."

McLean will remain in the role through the busy Christmas season right up until the end of the year.

She plans to spend some time with her successor for a transitionary period, similar to when she stepped into the role five years ago.

"I still remember how very kind my predecessor Sheila Hughes was. She literally took me by the hand and walked me through it and I had the comfort of knowing she was in charge of everything, and I had the bird's eye view. I know that our search committee has been working hard, they're hoping to be able to offer the same kindness to the new executive director. I know they hope to have someone hired by early December so that that person will be here and can get their own bird's eye view on Christmas fundraisers, what it's like to put Christmas hampers together, and distribution day."

It's a bittersweet departure for McLean.

"It's not a stretch to say it's dominated the last few years of my life, but only in a good way. I don't recall ever working so hard for a job and yet waking up the next day refreshed and ready to go. It's just so very gratifying to be here. What we do here has such a direct impact. You can't get any more inspiration than that to leap out of bed the next day."

She plans to spend a year or two travelling, spending time with her husband, and tending to her horse and bees, before exploring some creative outlets.

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