Byron Chan and Jessica Williams, Catholic Family Service’s New Co-CEOs

Catholic Family Service and the Unlocking Potential Foundation are excited to announce the appointment of Jessica Williams and Byron Chan as our new Co-CEOs, effective August 1, 2020.

Byron Chan, previously Senior Director, Strategy and Development, and Jessica Williams, previously Senior Director, Programs and Services, are highly qualified and dedicated professionals. In their time with Catholic Family Service and the UP Foundation, both have demonstrated exceptional leadership. They have been tireless in their effort to push our organization to be better in all that we do. We are fortunate to have them, and it is our privilege to welcome them into their new roles.

The appointments are part of our succession plan. Jessica and Byron were identified as successors to Patricia’s leadership, and piloting a Co-CEO model for an interim period is a bold step toward one of our strategic ambitions: to be a sector leader in collaboration. Advocating for closer working relationships in the sector is not just something we say. We are stronger when we work together, and modelling collaboration at the highest level of our organization reflects our investment in that pursuit.

Byron and Jessica will bring a combined depth of leadership that would be tough for any single leader to match. Each holds the capacity and wisdom to lead CFS and UP. Yet, their styles of leadership differ, and their strengths are complementary. Their alignment on crucial matters and ability to jointly navigate complex decisions is admirable. The organization and the families we serve will gain from their shared leadership, and we cannot think of a better approach for our next steps.

The city is changing, and the issues facing families are growing more complex. To continue building strong families, we need to challenge the status quo and commit ourselves to innovation. Though it is not the first implementation in the sector, the Co-CEO model is rare. As an organization, we have never allowed “unconventional” to stand in the way of doing what we believe will help us achieve our purpose and ambitions.

Still, innovation cannot be blind, and we will be intentional about reviewing the pilot during this interim period. We will adjust our course based on what we learn, how it supports building strong families, and what we assess as the long-term sustainability of this model.

Annie Murphy
Board Chair
Catholic Family Service Board of Directors

Patricia Jones
CEO
Catholic Family Service and the
Unlocking Potential Foundation

Byron Chan joined Catholic Family Service in 2016. A lawyer by background, Byron adds a diverse skill set to the CFS Leadership Team. After several years practicing in the corporate sector, his passion for social justice and working with marginalized communities led him and his wife to Africa in 2012. While serving in the international non-profit sector, Byron gained a wealth of experience in program management and coordination and in utilizing community-based solutions to provide holistic and sustainable care. In 2015, Byron and his wife returned to Calgary with a renewed desire and commitment to help address vulnerability as it exists here at home.

Byron is passionate about connecting vulnerable individuals and families into greater community and believes that true sustainability is built through the support structures that only authentic relationships can foster. He is inspired to be part of a team that shares this vision, and that seeks to make a real impact in their city.

Byron loves life as a husband and father of three. A serious foodie, Byron offsets his love of all “dirty foods” with an active lifestyle and a (not-so) slight obsession with sports.

Jessica Williams has been with Catholic Family Service since 2006. She has a Bachelor in Social Work (University of Victoria) and a Master’s of Arts in Leadership (Royal Roads University). In her undergrad, Jessica learned about the systems and structures that create and sustain vulnerability and inequality; in her graduate program, she learned tools and strategies for leading social change.

Jessica is passionate about building strong families and has experience in many programs with CFS: Counselling intake, F&ST, Crew, Never Too Late, volunteer services, and fund development/communications. After working on the CFS mission for 11 years, Jessica took time off in 2017 to start building her own family. She and her husband are proud parents of a curious and free-spirited toddler. Jessica says her daughter teaches her every day about the importance—and joy—of family, the potential for learning by taking a risk, and how brave (and wise) it is to ask
for help.

Jessica values excellence, courage, and compassion. She strives to tackle new challenges with both optimism and humility. Jessica is a firm believer in trying something new and learning by doing. She knows from experience that it is embracing the imperfections of our stories that teach us the most incredible things about ourselves and, without fail, show us the next step forward.