You can’t be afraid to navigate in unchartered waters. You’re always pioneering through new interactions and exploring new ideas.” – Jolynn Green, Executive Director, Community Futures Central Island
Jolynn Green may not have realized it at the time but growing up on a farm with entrepreneurial parents taught her lessons that would serve her for decades to come.
“I learned the value of a dollar, that you need tenacity, that community is everything and is integral to one’s well-being and relationships, and that come rain or shine sometimes you just need to put your ‘big girl pants on’ and get stuff done,” says Jolynn, who has been serving as the Community Futures (CF) Central Island’s Executive Director since 2010.
Igniting entrepreneurial passion
Jolynn first became acquainted with Community Futures in 1990 as a volunteer in East Kootenay. At the time she was working as a Chamber Manager and representative for the Elk Valley. Four years later, she joined their CF team as the Self Employment Manager — an apt position for her at the time. Not only did she love the work and mandate of Community Futures, but it also helped ignite a passion to start a business of her own.
Moving to Nanaimo in 2005, Jolynn started building the foundations for a community network that spanned beyond the Island. She started a consultancy practice in the Northwest Territories working with local indigenous communities. At the same time, she operated a local bed and breakfast with her partner, who was also working with Community Futures British Columbia on the mainland. If it wasn’t for the encouragement from a fellow board member of Tourism Nanaimo who also sat on the Community Futures Central Island board, Jolynn may not be at the helm of the organization she runs today, even if she admittingly “always seemed to gravitate back”.
“I told (this Board member) that I was really busy running my business, which I had operated for five years by that point,” said Jolynn. “But then I realized this was a really good opportunity, and wasn’t all that different from running my own business…It’s about your network, your team, listening to your customers and you have to be conscious of every dollar — whether coming in our going out.”
Jolynn’s tenacity proved its worth early on, as there was a lot of work to be done. She quickly sought to transform her “opportunity” into a clear vision for the future and endeavoured from the start to “get out and serve the community by supporting and informing her clients”.
It soon became abundantly clear that another of Jolynn’s entrepreneurial superpowers would also serve her – and her new community – incredibly well.
“When I meet people, I can quickly understand their gifts, then see the opportunities for connection and synergies with other people and projects to make it all happen.”
Maintaining focus through a pandemic
In a year where “making things happen” proved more challenging than anyone ever could imagine, Jolynn and her team of two have never lost sight of the work left to do. It’s also allowed Jolynn to achieve what she considers to be one of her proudest moments in what has been her “busiest year ever”.
“We never closed our doors. Our clients didn’t want answering machines. Even if we couldn’t see them face-to-face, it doesn’t stop us from connecting and matchmaking,” says Jolynn, who, along with her team, helped dispense millions of dollars to the region through a federal relief fund, assisted hundreds of businesses and helped maintain hundreds of jobs”.
This in in addition to lending to small business, leveraging funds into the community, raising money to support programming such as Survive and Recover, Thriving Non Profits and Business Legacies Initiative, as well as receiving a grant to create two part-time positions.
A busy year indeed.
Creating a wave to lift all boats
“It’s about following your intuition,” says Jolynn when asked what it takes to work in this field. “You can’t be afraid to navigate in unchartered waters. You’re always pioneering through new interactions and exploring new ideas. Most pioneers don’t have a lot – like many economic development agencies. Success doesn’t always come easily. You put out a lot of intentions — cast your net far and wide. Then gradually your hard work creates a ripple, then a wave and ultimately the goal is a surge or rising tide that will lift all boats.”
And, if Jolynn’s professional life wasn’t already eventful enough, she and her partner completed the design and building of their new “west coast modern home” – a project started only months before the pandemic, and which presented a whole new array of other skill building opportunities.
But rural roots run deep and, as expected, she got the job done.
Jolynn is the Executive Director at Community Futures Central Island and is currently working on a business development strategy that will diversify and bolster her organization’s ability to generate revenues, in turn increasing programming to support the local economy and economic development.
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