15 yearsUpon discovering last fall that our Chapter’s roots date back to 1999, with the support of Past President Cherie Williams in late December, I chose to undertake a ‘small’ project. I decided to ‘take a walk down International Coaching Federation (ICF) Vancouver Charter Chapter memory lane’. Little did I know that this ‘small project’ would turn into a significant discovery! ‘Itching’ to share the story with you for the past few months I am pleased to finally have this opportunity to tell you, our members, about this wonderful journey.

Did you know that you, as a Member of the ICF Vancouver Charter Chapter, are part of a Chapter that played a ground-breaking role in professionalizing coaching in Canada? And, that our Chapter played a key role in mentoring other Canadian Chapters in the early days of ICF Global?

In the course of my research and with the help of ICF Global, past-presidents, and board members, I made an important discovery: something that may be unknown to some and forgotten by others as years passed. Fifteen years to be precise. I learned about our legacy. ICF Vancouver Charter Chapter was the first Canadian ICF Chapter to be incorporated! This means that the Chapter became formalized and met the criteria set by ICF Global. Thanks to an amazing group of passionate, hard-working and committed team of volunteers who took on a leadership role in the coaching community, our Chapter achieved this exciting milestone – one of many accomplishments that followed. For this reason and much more we owe our predecessors a commitment to continue building on their legacy.

As 2015 marks ICF Global’ s 20th anniversary, this is a perfect opportunity to pause and take a moment to reflect on ICF Vancouver Charter Chapter’s own past. I decided to commemorate our fifteenth anniversary by asking the founders and Past Presidents to share their insights and stories. You are invited to read on and hear what your ICF Vancouver ‘ancestors’ have to say on the following questions:

  • How has community awareness about coaching changed over the last fifteen years?
  • What contribution do you believe you made to the profession of coaching in Vancouver during your tenure?
  • How do you see the profession of coaching evolving in the future? I invite you to read on and hear what your ICF Vancouver ‘ancestors’ have to say.

Before we begin the Q & A, a brief history lesson is in order. Let’s step back in time. Imagine the year is 1999, where ‘coaching’ is often followed by the question ‘for what sport’? Teresia LaRocque, a locally trained coach, reached out to ICF about setting up a local chapter. Shortly after, ICF connected Terry Ramsay, also a professional coach, and Teresia. They joined forces, starting our Chapter’s journey of getting Vancouver on the ICF map! Each reached out to their networks, planned a meeting, and co-hosted an event. Imagine their surprise when eighteen people showed up!

And so the story unfolds. Over the next two years this dynamic duo co-hosted meetings and built a community, and the profession of coaching slowly took root and built momentum. When the ICF asked Vancouver to host the 2000 ICF Conference, many local coaches volunteered their time and efforts to make the Conference a success.

In 2000, Terry carried the torch for another year and focused on getting the Vancouver Chapter incorporated. A Board was established and the Board members rolled up their sleeves and got to work. On November 28, 2000 the Vancouver Chapter was incorporated. Let’s not forget – Vancouver was the first Canadian Chapter to incorporate – not a small feat considering there were only five incorporated Chapters globally at the time! In Terry’s tenure, and as part of her legacy the Vancouver Chapter served as mentors to the Toronto and Calgary Chapters helping them become incorporated.

Many people followed in these women’s footsteps helping develop coaching as a profession and helping to create what our Chapter is today.

1) How has community awareness about coaching changed over the last 15 years?

Teresia LaRocque noted, “ Thomas Leonard’s (the late founder of Coach University and ICF) prediction that in the future people would ask ‘do you have a coach’ not ‘what is a coach?’ has come to pass. Fifteen years ago when coaching was still in its infancy, the focus was on educating the public about the profession of coaching. Today there is a greater awareness of the benefits of coaching.”

Terry Ramsay observes, “Coaches are building even more community amongst themselves and there is an increased openness and acceptance within the coaching community for the various coach-training approaches now available – ICF-approved certified training programs (ACTP) of course!”

Katie Bennett commented that during her tenure, “Coaching was still somewhat on the fringe since not many people had really heard of coaching in the greater-Vancouver area and you had to work hard to sell the benefits of coaching.”

Linda Forest reflected, “Coaching is starting to be recognized by many as a resource to facilitate a shift in culture.”

Ray Williams added, “Coaching is now more widespread in organizations, particularly at mid-management level, with some organizations using in-house coaches while others contract out.” Ray also pointed out that coaching has become more specialized. Specialty areas include career, ADHD, eating disorders, executive and life coaching and are now public offerings.

Karen Shankey responded, “There is a better understanding of the value proposition and return on investment of coaching.”

Deb Kemp points out, “UBC – a world recognized university – is now offering a certified coaching program. This is a clear indicator that the business community recognizes the value of coaching within organizations.”

Karole Sutherland furthered this observation stating, “Coaching is now also recognized as an important leadership development tool.”

Cherie Williams added, “More large and mid-sized organizations are using coaching for staff development, to improve performance, and to drive change.”

Cheryl Stafford said, “The ICF Vancouver Chapter has more visibility in the wider community along with an increased awareness around the value of working with credentialed coaches.”

2) What contribution do you believe you made to the profession of coaching in Vancouver during your tenure? These responses deserve to be showcased in concert with the term(s) each Past President served:

“I personally made it my mission to educate individuals on the profession of coaching and how it could change lives. I was proactive in getting media coverage in the Vancouver Sun, Province, BC Business magazine and other local publications and TV shows.” Teresia LaRocque, 1999-2000

“I guess I can say I attended all the meetings and did my best to get more coaches involved in our Chapter meetings. I only missed one meeting in the three years I was involved.” Terry Ramsay, 1999-2002

“I remember the focus was really on building our coaching community. We were still small, and new, and it felt like we really needed each other to make coaching succeed… I remember those first few meetings with Teresia and Terry – I so wanted to be part of that community of coaches to help make my career transition from advertising to coaching real. That continued while I was president – we were all trying to figure out how to make a business out of it.” Katie Bennett, 2003-2004

Note – We were unable to reach Terrill Welch, 2005, for her contribution.

“As VP I was responsible for bringing and planning the inaugural Prism Award to the Vancouver Chapter, also bringing and implementing an inaugural partnership with Minerva …as President … [I] reactivated Coaching Week, which had been dormant for a few years.” Linda Forest, 2006

“I think two significant things that were accomplished during my tenure as president were the complete overhaul of the Board of Directors operating manual and procedures, and the promotion and expansion of the Prism Award initiative.” Ray Williams, 2007

“I led a Board of 12 to achieve record results for the chapter – we launched a new website, created year round sponsorship program and raised unprecedented $20K in sponsorship funds, [we also] won an International Award for [Minerva Helping Women Work Outreach Program].” Karen Shankey, 2008

“I’m particularly proud of having brought Brené Brown to Vancouver. She is a world-class speaker who was just launching a world-class career. I think it raised the profile of the Chapter and proved that we could host an event of that nature and make money too.” Deb Kemp, 2009

“One thing I think we really pushed for that had an impact on coaching awareness was certification. We took the stance that all board members had to be certified and that we would make increasing the number of our members who were certified a board goal…we were consistent in our message that certification was essential for the acceptance of the profession. If you wanted to serve on the board it was a minimum condition [to agree to become certified] as we had to be role models.” Karole Sutherland, 2010-2011

“One of my contributions was the initiation of a new website platform. …I championed the idea until there was buy-in and thanks to this initiative, we now have a better, modern platform to work from… I also introduced the volunteer recognition event – the more happy volunteers we have, the more advocates we have for professional coaching and the ICF”. Cheryl Stafford, 2012

“I believed and continue to believe that the key to increasing the profile of ICF credentialed coaches is creating awareness in the community – of the importance in hiring ICF credentialed coaches. This started to take shape and form in the Professional Alliance portfolio, re-established under my tenure after a brief hiatus, and is making significant inroads into the HR community province-wide.” Cherie Williams, 2013

With regards to the 2014/2015 term, we are still hard at work and hope to continue achieving to the standard of excellence established by our predecessors.
In concludion, the Past Presidents were invited to crystal ball gaze and share where they saw the profession of coaching evolving in the future. What a joy it is to share the optimistic vision held for our profession!

3) How do you see the profession of coaching evolving in the future?

Teresia – “I see coaching continue to grow. As the director of the Erickson College International Business Center, it is exciting to see the growth of coaching all over the world. We currently support thousands of coaches in 36 countries! “

Terry – “I see coaching much more accepted by organizations. What I am seeing is that coaches are more internalized than in the early days. Not sure if it is because as external coaches we charged a lot!”

Katie – “As every year goes by, coaching seems to become more and more prevalent and understood. That is a powerful place for new coaches to launch from. Huge organizations like The Ken Blanchard Companies …as well as all the thousands of independent coaches, have brought coaching to the masses and it’s now easy to open the door. Many organizations now include coaching as part of their leadership development – and I believe this will only continue.”

Linda – “Coaching is no longer an unknown process but rather part of the standard suite of Human Resources (OD, LR etc.) integrated tools / resources made available within organizations to facilitate and support continuous improvement. This improvement might be related to improving organization culture and/or developing and growing positive sustainable work relationships.”

Ray – “I think one way in which coaching will evolve is to become integrated into leadership development programs, so that it is seen and accepted as a leadership competency.”

Karen – “I continue to be amazed at what’s possible for the client’s we coach and how they grow and develop during the coaching process and afterwards. I love to see their eyes light up with that “aha moment” at their own enlightenment, and with what might have been so apparent to their coach. But it is not in the “telling” but in the client’s learning. I wish that for more people. I’d like to imagine coaching as a “second language” used by many.”

Deb – “The coaching skillset/mindset is so beneficial in all areas of business and life. I really can see the day when those skills are universal and there isn’t a designation because everyone needs these skills to flourish and thrive. We raised two amazing young men who learned a lot from the coach training I had – they now call me with “I need coach time” and I experience them as curious in all things that life brings them.”

Karole – “Coaches are as important and accepted partners within companies as accountants, lawyers and other professionals to support leadership development. Coaches are used as routinely as physios, personal trainers or massage therapists to support individuals with change and growth. It’s the first thing you think of when you find yourself stuck or you want to achieve something special – you work with a coach to ensure you reach your goal. No one would think of tackling a personal challenge without the support of a coach.”

Cheryl – “With so much flux in organizations, increased stress on individuals personally and professionally – our community needs to be ready to coach around balance – I see huge amounts of work for the long term here. With economics unstable – people are unstable and need help with direction and support to help them get through to their goals.”

Cherie – “I think coaching skills will be incorporated into the education curriculum creating a more sophisticated and adaptable youth citizenry that will function more effectively in the boardroom and in life.”

And here we are, back in April 2015, just a little over fifteen years since the birth of our Chapter! Many exciting opportunities continue to be created to raise awareness of the importance of coaching. As of January 2015, there were 389 ICF Global members affiliated with ICF Vancouver – that’s just a “few” more than the group of 18 in 1999! As we use this amazing skill set called coaching for the betterment and improvement of society, organizations, and in individual lives, we have impact and make a difference playing our part in achieving the ICF Global vision– “to be in service to humanity flourishing”.

Suzanne Ricard-Greenway
President, 2014-2015

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