Jane Mitchell has been appointed as the new executive director of HopeSpring. - Mathew McCarthy , Waterloo Region Record file photo
WATERLOO REGION — Veteran regional politician Jane Mitchell is HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre's new leader.
Mitchell took over the role of executive director on May 1.
"I'm very excited," Mitchell said. "This is a very dynamic organization."
A half-year after the municipal election, Mitchell thought it was an opportunity too good to resist.
Mitchell served as a Waterloo regional councillor for 18 years, her public service inspiring her to pioneer the Waterloo Region Women's Municipal Campaign School to boost female participation at local and regional levels of government.
"We're very excited Jane came out of retirement to do this," said Shawn Hlowatzki, president of board of directors. "Jane has an excellent reputation and a kind heart."
Hlowatzki said Mitchell is well suited to lead the organization into the next stage of its transformation, taking over from Lois Peterson, who was at the helm during a tumultuous time.
HopeSpring nearly shut down two years ago. In January 2017, the organization announced it would close at the end of March due to difficulty raising the funds needed to operate. The community rallied and soon raised enough to keep the doors open.
"HopeSpring isn't just an institution. It belongs to our community," Hlowatzki said.
And Mitchell, he said, has deep-rooted connections with the region that HopeSpring serves, along with being well-rounded.
Mitchell was a librarian at Renison University College, served as school board trustee for 10 years, and most recently was chair of the Grand River Conservation Authority.
She first learned about HopeSpring, which has offered free programs and services to people living with cancer and their families since 1995, on a tour as a councillor, and then two friends got support there as cancer patients.
Mitchell was impressed by the range of programs, including yoga, counselling and cooking lessons — "all kinds of things to help people through."
The plan is to go out into the community this fall to ask what people want from HopeSpring as it moves forward.
"That, I think, is going to be very exciting — connecting with the community."
Mitchell will report directly to the board of directors, which she says is fantastic and hands-on.
"We all believe in HopeSpring and what HopeSpring does."