2020 Board of Directors Election
CHANTAL DESJARDINS: BIOGRAPHY
WHY I AM RUNNING FOR THE EMBARC BOARD
I will once again be a candidate for the Embarc Board of Directors election this year. The position up for election is the one currently occupied by Konrad Kawalec who is stepping down. It is the only position on the board for which only individual Embarc points members can vote – the declarant does not vote in the election for this position. It is the only position up for a vote this year.
Our Facebook Group members have asked why I’d invest more time when the Club is under Diamond’s absolute rule – do I see myself as being a change agent or a disrupter, or merely a witness to DR’s "skullduggery"? I’ll attempt to answer this question here…
What do I aspire to, as my role on this board? As the one board member elected only by members other than the declarant, I see myself as the most legitimate representative of those members’ interests and will do my best to ensure that Embarc management acts on their behalf – without bias in favour of the declarant. After all, there is already an overwhelming majority of the board elected by declarant due to its 15X voting power advantage. I therefore must lean, as much as I can, towards the interests of the “regular” membership.
I have, and will do my best to maintain, a visible and transparent connection to Embarc membership
If I become a member of the board, it will be because I will have obtained the highest number of votes by general Embarc membership, of any candidate. This number of votes, especially if it replicates the results of the past two years, will make me the most legitimate spokesperson for member interests
I am an "average" member and I will do my utmost to represent the "average" member’s point of view
I will advocate for individual owners who need assistance/help
I will be an effective resource to communicate to the other board members, customer service / customer satisfaction issues, so that they hear exactly what I hear about the issues members encounter – without a filter
The National Council of Non-profits (USA) summarizes the duty of a board of directors as:
Duty of Care: Take care of the non-profit by ensuring prudent use of all assets, including facility, people, and good will;
Duty of Loyalty: Ensure that the non-profit's activities and transactions are, first and foremost, advancing its mission; Recognize and disclose conflicts of interest; Make decisions that are in the best interest of the non-profit corporation; not in the best interest of the individual board member (or any other individual or for-profit entity).
Duty of Obedience: Ensure that the non-profit obeys applicable laws and regulations; follows its own bylaws; and that the non-profit adheres to its stated corporate purposes/mission.
It also states:
“However, a board of directors does not exist solely to fulfill legal duties and serve as a fiduciary of the organization’s assets. Board members also play very significant roles providing guidance to non-profits by contributing to the organization’s culture, strategic focus, effectiveness, and financial sustainability, as well as serving as ambassadors and advocates. Beyond fulfilling legal duties, board members can be important resources for the organization in multiple ways.”
That particular phrase (underlined) resumes very succinctly what I want to do and is what motivates me.
Please vote for me!
Many of you already "know" me. I've been a member since 1997 having purchased points on a "Discovery" weekend at Mont-Tremblant. Many vacations have since been taken using those points either to stay at our own clubs or others through Interval International! Our locations are definitely superior to most of the offerings on the market even though some improvements could and must be made to improve the value for members. I have another timeshare, this one at a single location in Ontario, which has also allowed me to experience and learn about another timeshare system, somewhat different from Embarc's.
My adventure with "CI The Owners Group" (CIOG) began in November 2015 when, while on a getaway to Tremblant, I read the news that our clubs had been taken over by Diamond Resorts International. I've been a member of TUG (Timeshare Users Group) for many years and had seen many, many posts about DRI on their discussion boards. Because of that, I was extremely alarmed to discover that they were becoming our developer/declarant/manager. Their reputation among timeshares was not good, to say the least. I discovered the CIOG Facebook group and was among the first 100 members to join the page.
Shortly thereafter, Carolyn Wahrenberger, who had started the group, sold her Embarc points and looked for admins to replace her. She solicited Jonathan Mayer and myself in January 2016 to take over and we accepted. At that point, our group had only 200 members. Today, through the efforts of many members who have spread the word, our group is at 5,000 and still growing.
I became a member of what was then called the "VCC" (Volunteer Coordinating Committee) in April 2016 - my mandate was that of growing the Facebook group and of creating and maintaining a website to make it easier for members to find the important information we held. Since then, I have been taking care of communications, marketing, and some outreach. I had the pleasure of meeting a large number of members in person at the Special General Meeting in Vancouver in June 2016. As well, the many emails to firstname.lastname@example.org and many requests for the JRA legal form access have, until very recently, been received and answered by me personally, so I've had the pleasure of communicating directly with a very large number of our members over the past three years both by email, private message and Facebook. Since the spring of 2018, I have been the VP Membership for the non-profit organization "Emwest Owners Association" which advocates for changes favouring resort points owners and "Transparency, Fairness & Control".
After retiring from the Sears Canada Corporate Head Office in Toronto about 7 years ago, I returned to Montreal and was almost immediately solicited to work at one of Canada's best-known universities to start up and then administrate a continuing education program for dentists within the Faculty of Dentistry. My retirement had lasted a very short six months! My previous employer, Sears Canada, was an excellent school and gave me exposure to many, many types of work and especially people. Many thousands of them, in many different circumstances! It taught me to roll up my sleeves, to be flexible, to listen, to offer my help when and where I could, and to work hard to get the needed results for the collective good. I have always worked long hours and outside of a "normal schedule". But you know what the saying is: if you want something done - ask a busy person to do it. That's me.
At Sears, during my 37 year career I was often solicited to collaborate in "starting up" and sometimes to implement alone, different programs. I have been a member of many committees and workgroups that were mandated to implement developmental change, transitional change, and transformational change. I have been responsible for the development, allocation, monitoring and analysis of gross sales budgets of over 15 million dollars per year. Pre-retirement at Sears, I worked in Procurement Education as Training Consultant. I developed their first vendor training program and was then responsible to adapt and deliver it on an ongoing basis. Sears had vendors of all types across Canada - over 2,000 of them.
During much of my time at Sears, their tagline was "Satisfaction Guaranteed or Your Money Back" and customer service was the principal focus of our work whether at the store level or working in a headquarters position - for both "external" and "internal" customers. Things have changed and Sears is no more, but I believe that I can truthfully say that this customer service mantra that we lived and breathed is something that I still aspire to live by.
I would like to have the opportunity to put to use my passion, my knowledge of Embarc governance, the knowledge the day-to-day issues members have - as well as my willingness to work hard for members - in a new role - that of member advocate on the Board. Embarc members need someone on their side to bring their issues to the Board so that they understand and realize what members experience in those situations where "challenges" occur. Members want better availability, members want better value for their annual fees. Members want great customer service - all the time, not "hit or miss". Members want to be able to exit with a reasonable amount of what they initially paid for their points. Members want FAIRNESS, CLARITY and CONTROL. I would like to have the opportunity do my best to influence the board towards those goals. As your representative on the board, I would ask the "hard" questions. I would push to obtain better value in all aspects of our points ownership.
I believe that I have the qualities, a proven track record and the focus to be effective as the second Independent Director on the Embarc Board.
I sincerely hope that you will vote for me!