Some of you may remember me from my involvement in the Dharma Centre many years ago, as a member of the first Academy, co-ordinator of a Summer School in the 1990s, and frequent retreater when Namgyal Rinpoche was alive. Since I have been living in BC for over a decade, my participation in the DC has been minimal. But after a fortuitous meeting with Lama Mark on the ferry to Galiano Island, I agreed to return to the Dharma Centre for the first time in five years to participate in a Strategic Planning session last October.
Shelane Donoghue explained the purpose of the Strategic Planning process: “Over a year ago, the staff articulated to me the difficulty in marketing DCC courses because the vision of the DCC was not a clear and unified vision shared by the Spiritual Directors, Resident Teachers and the Board. I brought these concerns forward to the Spiritual Directors who decided we needed a process to articulate the unique aspects of the DCC…”
Joining in the visioning process were Spiritual Directors (Lama Mark Webber and Terry Hagan) Board members (Shelane Donoghue, Chris Von Baeyer, Monique Truax, Steven Gellman), Resident Teacher (Mala Sikka) and staff (Marion Herlet and Marta Castiglioni), with Tracy Sheridan as our Human Resources consultant. In developing the Strategic Plan, we started with the DC Mission statement, which the Board had previously crafted and approved. From there, we articulated the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats that we saw as impacting the DC’s ability to embody its Mission. From that analysis, we generated a vision for the DC:
“By 2025, the Dharma Centre of Canada will manifest a Centre of Excellence for the study, contemplation and practice of Buddha Dharma. The Dharma Centre will have strong foundation of committed Spiritual Directors, Resident and Visiting Teachers, Practitioners in Residence, Board of Directors and Staff members, imbued with a love of Dharma, to support the operation of a multi-purpose Dharma - retreat and study facility, including community outreach.”
We then articulated ten Strategic Goals that we would work to achieve over the next few years. Finally, each participant in the session agreed to take a leadership role in creating plans and engaging support from DC members to make progress towards particular goals.
At the AGM, DC members voted to approve the Strategic Plan, which gave the new Board a clear mandate to proceed with making our shared vision a reality. Since then, work has commenced on several goals, including establishment of a Practitioner Support Fund, and improved Financial Management/Administration processes. A follow-up meeting with Spiritual Directors is slated to discuss how the DC can create a curriculum structured around the “Namgyal Banner” teachers, focused on attracting new, younger members and reducing our reliance on rentals to outside groups. After that meeting, we expect to involve a Marketing consultant to guide us in showcasing the DC’s magnificent heritage to an expanded membership.
I felt it was particularly auspicious that our Strategic Plan was articulated on the fifteenth anniversary of Namgyal Rinpoche’s passing. I hope that the love of Dharma and the desire for liberation that he imbued in all of us will give us the determination and sustained focus needed to bring our shared vision to fruition. I sincerely wish that the DC will continue to offer many beings the precious opportunity for Dharma study and practice that it offered me over thirty-five years ago.
Christine Wihak, Program & Strategic Planning Chair