Executive Director

The Doorway is looking for an engaging, inclusive, approachable leader with good listening and communication skills to be their next Executive Director (ED). Grounded in the belief of a youth’s ability to self determine and a passion for helping young people help themselves, our new ED will display values of empathy, compassion and a commitment to possibility and hope in their every interaction. A great team leader and change agent, our new leader will work well with others, respecting their views and supporting staff and volunteers to develop their skills. Positive an encouraging, the successful candidate will have an open and flexible style. They will be good at problem solving and able to make sound decisions that generate unified support from diverse groups of stakeholders. 

Our new ED will be a confident leader who can network and speak publicly
about The Doorway in a business environment yet still be able to engage with participants on a meaningful level. An accomplished relationship builder, the successful candidate will be able to participate in positive ways in community initiatives that support youth. They will have the skills to raise significant support to fund our mission and will strategically engage
with the community for greater awareness and stronger partnerships to ensure The Doorway thrives into the future, reaching and serving more youth.

The successful candidate will have a post-secondary degree in sociology or complementary field as well as extensive knowledge and direct experience with vulnerable youth such as in social work, addictions, family services, mental health, or other similar work experience. Commitment to practice within a participatory action research framework fuels the work of our new leader.

The successful candidate will have experience supporting a nonprofit Board of Directors in its governance duties and working with an engaged, passionate workforce of staff and volunteers, as well as a good understanding of non-profit finances, including projectbased funding, grant applications, reporting and their implications.

The new leader of The Doorway has the responsibility and opportunity to build on the legacy of the previous ED, recognizing the need to both honour her contribution and continue to be responsive to the changing needs of youth. At the same time, our new ED will have the opportunity to build on our strong history and create a strong foundation of systems and processes to support growth in our outreach to youth and our impact on society’s understanding of how to best support young people as members of our communities.

Organization Overview

In the late 80’s The Doorway piloted as an experiment in social change addressing young people living on the streets in Calgary. A sociological frame started with learning directly from the young people. An understanding of the differences between street culture and mainstream culture led to an awareness that the definition of ‘on the street’ was and still is today different than ‘homeless’.

The Doorway Approach engages both young people living on the streets and mainstream community members in a self-determined planning process and crosscultural exchange to make these lasting changes.

Our Principles Based Approach:

  • Integrity / Dignity
  • Acceptance without judgement or prejudice
  • People who listen to each other learn from each other
  • Life is such that things do not always work
  • Forgiveness (Every day is a new day)
  • All actions / choices affect other people

The Process:
The Doorway welcomes all young people (17-24 years old) who want to get off the street. We are a community here to listen without judgement. We give young people a safe space where they can tap into their innate wisdom and chart their own path forward. Change is possible. The Doorway is here for young people and commits to them for a two-year period. During that time, they come through our doors, set goals and engage with community members. For 32 years, our proven process has been consistent and over one thousand young people, at an average success rate of 70%, have reached their goals to get off the street.

The Success:

For every goal they set, participants earn $15. For many of them, this is the first chance they have had in life to make money legally. As young people continue to step through our door, set and track goals and build relationships with community members, amazing changes happen. They become more confident, hopeful and resilient. Most importantly, they start to believe in themselves and in their ability to get off the street and join mainstream community. In 2019, 97% of participants said The Doorway process helped them reach their goals.

Based in Calgary, AB, The Doorway (formerly The Backdoor, A Youth Employment Society) has been providing street youth a unique process to help themselves get off the street, since 1988. The Doorway has an annual budget of approximately $400,000 and is supported by a small core team of staff and volunteers and a dedicated volunteer Board of Directors. In 2019, we supported 77 young people plan 2154 steps to get off the street with the help of 1489 community volunteer hours.

For more than 30 years The Doorway has believed:

  • There is vital benefit in providing a young person an opportunity to THINK.
  • Every young person deserves two years of belief and support.
  • We have the ability to show young people a better society than what they have experienced.
  • When young people are surrounded by a positive example of society and people who trust and believe in them, their desire to join society and belief within themselves begins to grow.

Role Emphasis

The Executive Director (ED) is responsible for the successful leadership, management and operations at The Doorway (The Backdoor, Youth Employment Society). The Doorway has a dual mandate;

  • To help long term street experienced young people exit the street culture.
  • To provide a space for community people to learn how to welcome, participate with, and learn from young people integrating back into mainstream economy and community.

The ED’s major mandate is to ensure that The Doorway has a long-range strategy for success and achieves consistent and timely progress on its goals. As the senior staff member of The Doorway, the ED clearly understands, demonstrates and practices the values and philosophy of the organization while providing leadership and hands on support to a small, capable, engaged team of staff and community volunteers who support youth with our unique process. Key responsibilities include fund development; optimal use of organizational finances, staff and resources; long range strategic and fiscal planning; operational oversight and support; building collaborative relationships with other agencies; and enhancing The Doorway’s profile in the community.

Key Responsibilities

Leadership and Culture

  • Establish a positive, healthy, and safe work environment while fostering a culture consistent with the society’s core values.
  • Recruit and retain a team of staff and volunteers who fit the culture and perform in their roles.
  • Provide day-to-day leadership and a focus on strategic execution towards the society’s long-term vision.
  • Connect as appropriate with The Doorway’s Co-Founder, Marilyn Dyck, to further the overall goals of The Doorway in creating space in society for listening to youth

Operations, Program, and People Management

  • Establish an organizational structure that meets current and future program needs.
  • Develop and monitor operating plans in collaboration with the Lead Facilitator.
  • Identify, evaluate and mitigate risks to The Doorway people (participants, staff, volunteers), finances, goodwill, and brand.
  • When needed, provide hands on operational support, along with staff and volunteers, to ensure participants are fully supported in their process.

Community Leadership and Advocacy

  • Seek to ensure that people, particularly those who are most vulnerable in society, are able to have their voice heard on issues that are important to them, defend and safeguard their rights, and have their views and wishes genuinely considered when decisions are being made about their lives.
  • Collaborate with other organizations in shared learning and thought leadership.
  • Keep abreast of The Doorway role in the context of our city, and the social issues that young people encounter in their process of cultural integration.
  • Develop and maintain a group of active community Advisors available for consultation and feedback on various issues as appropriate.

Financial Planning and Management

  • Manage the regular monthly submission of financial statements, operational performance reports, and other relevant information to the Board.
  • Maintain a system of internal controls and accounting procedures that safeguard the organization’s financial resources.

Fund Development

  • Ensure effective strategy and activities related to fund development.
  • Work with the Board to develop and implement a relationship-based fund development plan to secure adequate funding for programs and operations.
  • Hands-on leadership and execution of fundraising initiatives such as grant writing and reporting; event management; soliciting direct individual and corporate donations, gifts in kind, and sponsorships; organizing casinos; and obtaining support from private and public foundations.

Governance and Board Relations

  • Collaborate with the Board of Directors to model governance best practices.
  • Renew and maintain the implementation of the annual strategic plan and priorities to fulfill The Doorway’s long-term vision.
  • Engage Board members collectively and individually as strategic partners to advance the interests of The Doorway.


  • Maintain annual federal and provincial Society status registration and licensing.
  • Ensure procedures as outlined in the Society Bylaws are in place and followed.
  • Oversee all business processes including human resources, accounting/record keeping, purchasing, insurance, and location maintenance activities.


  • Networking and Relationship Building
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Accountability
  • Fund Development
  • Strategic Thinking

Required Experience/Skills

  • At least five years of experience in a senior leadership/Executive Director position, preferably working collaboratively with a volunteer Board of Directors.
  • Passion for and connection with the vulnerable youth sector, ability to positively influence key stakeholders and partners locally, provincially and nationally to enhance the experience of youth in our communities.
  • Experience with or commitment to working with youth within a participatory action research framework.
  • Excellent communication skills: demonstrated ability to tailor communication to different audiences, particularly participants, staff, volunteers, donors, community leaders, partner agencies and politicians.
  • Strong operational and business skills: strategic planning, people and organizational leadership, sound financial knowledge, innovative program development and human resources management plus hands on experience supporting vulnerable youth.
  • Exceptional fund development/donor stewardship skills:  a strategic approach to developing sustainable funding and a strong financial foundation through establishing strong relationships and support with funders and partners.

Post-secondary degree in sociology, community development, social work, education or a related discipline, supplemented by business experience. A combination of relevant education and experience will be considered.

Please send your covering letter and resume to: directors@thedoorway.ca

Please send your information on or before April 17, 2020

The Doorway thanks all candidates for their interest. Only those selected for an interview will be contacted.