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Executive director celebrates 20 years at Valley Community Services

Justine Keirn celebrated the milestone with staff in April
Justine Keirn flanked by co-workers Tania Wiklund and Michaela Sykorova.

Justine Keirn, executive director of Valley Community Services, celebrated 20 years of service to Valley Community Services (VCS) this spring. 

On April 17, she was met by a surprise gathering of staff and board members to mark the milestone.

For nearly three decades, VCS has been a cornerstone of the Creston community, providing essential support and care to those in need. From infants to teens to adults to seniors, VCS offers individual and family programs recognized province-wide for their trauma-informed, client-based approach. 

Keirn's journey with Valley Community Services began in 2004, when she was hired by now-retired director, Serena Naeve, as an office manager and receptionist.  While she worked, raised her family, and studied, Keirn eventually attained the prestigious title of certified public accountant. Her tireless commitment to the VCS organization saw her take on various roles from human resources, to managing payroll and contracts, to overseeing agency finances. Finally in 2016, Keirn's leadership qualities were fully recognized as she ascended to the role of executive director. 

Throughout her years with VCS, Keirn's list of accomplishments reads like a road map to success. She spearheaded initiatives such as securing, designing, and renovating the office building at 915 Pine Street, led the agency through several strategic planning events, and ensured VCS not only achieved accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, but maintained it through successive evaluations. 

Through her relentless pursuit of funding, Keirn has secured numerous grants over the years, enabling the agency to adapt to increasing community needs by creating new vital programs. These include adult counselling, a Masters of Counselling practicum-student program, essential sexual assault services, the HUB clinic at Kootenay River Secondary School, and support to address unique issues experienced by plural culture individuals and families. Additionally, Keirn has been integral in increasing existing programming such as Community Mental Health Outreach services, family counselling, sexual abuse intervention programs, early years programming (with Family Place becoming a Neighbourhood House), and of course, seniors programming.  One of Keirn's most notable achievements lies in the expansion of Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors (TAPS), transforming it into a model emulated by other organizations across the province.

Beyond her professional achievements, Keirn has nurtured a culture of support and camaraderie within the VCS organization. Her leadership has fostered a work environment where staff feel valued and empowered, driving them to excel in their roles.  Collaboration and teamwork are the cornerstones upon which our organization thrives. Through this culture of unity and cooperation, VCS has achieved remarkable outcomes while creating a sense of belonging and fulfillment among its staff.

We, at VCS, anticipate the continued impact of Keirn’s leadership in the years to come. With gratitude and admiration, here's to a true champion of community service and an inspiration to us all. Cheers to another 20 years!

Justine Keirn, executive director of Valley Community Services.