Leadership Updates From FIRST UNITED

Date 9 Aug, 2023

The Board of Directors of FIRST UNITED Church Community Ministry Society is excited to announce two significant and positive shifts in leadership. First, that The Right Reverend Dr. Carmen Lansdowne has been offered a position as Assistant Professor of United Church Studies at Emmanuel College, of Victoria University in the University of Toronto, which will commence in 2025, when her term as Moderator completes. Her resignation as FIRST’s Executive Director (on leave) was effective June 30, 2023.

Further to this, the Board is thrilled to share that Amanda Burrows, who has served as Interim Executive Director since August 2022, keeping FIRST UNITED on track with skill, humor, exceptional leadership qualities and forging partnerships, has accepted the permanent position of Executive Director, effective August 1, 2023. Amanda became Acting Executive Director in March 2023 when Carmen began her sabbatical and has been with FIRST UNITED since 2020. She has made significant contributions to the organization and the Downtown Eastside since.

“We are happy for both Carmen and Amanda as they continue to take on new challenges and serve with perseverance and compassion. FIRST UNITED’s Board is proud of Carmen and grateful for her leadership and vision while at FIRST. We anticipate that she will find joy and success in teaching theology and preparing UCC students for leadership. We know that FIRST continues to have strong leadership, stability, and compassion with Amanda as Executive Director. And we are confident that with her leadership, FIRST will continue to serve the needs of the Downtown Eastside community and adapt to whatever challenges lay ahead.”

Dr. Heather F. Clarke, Board Chair, FIRST UNITED

“I’m absolutely humbled and honoured to continue permanently in my role, serving FIRST UNITED and residents of the Downtown Eastside. Our organization is one of the oldest service providers in the community, with an important legacy based on compassion, dignity, and justice. To be able to carry forward our life-affirming work, and make real, concrete strides toward justice for the Downtown Eastside is the privilege of a lifetime.

Amanda Burrows, Executive Director

Last August, Carmen took a leave of absence from FIRST UNITED to serve as Moderator of the United Church of Canada in a three-year term. Though we’re sad that FIRST won’t be able to welcome Carmen back in 2025, we are thrilled for the Emmanuel College community and know that Carmen’s dedication to the Church and passion for leadership development will serve students and faculty alike for years to come.

“I’m thrilled to move into this exciting new role at Emmanuel College. I have a deep connection to and passion for The United Church, and I look forward to having time to integrate my lived experiences in ministry into teaching and writing. I couldn’t be happier for Amanda or for First United.  I was the right person at the right time in 2017, and she is the right person at the right time now.  I will continue to support the capital campaign, First Forward, in anyway way I can, and will continue my Frontline support of regular operations. It’s an exciting chapter in the life of this vibrant ministry.”

The Right Reverend Dr. Carmen Lansdowne

In her capacity as Interim Executive Director, Amanda has secured the Final Project Approval from BC Housing and a majority of equity for the redevelopment of our site at 320 E Hastings; moved all of the organization’s programs and services into six satellite locations to prepare for redevelopment; seamlessly transferred ownership of the First United Church Social Housing Society to Sch’eyk Housing Society, operated by Lu’ma Native Housing Society; successfully ratified a new collective agreement with UFCW 1518; and engaged in important advocacy to improve conditions for the community we serve.

Join us in congratulating Carmen and Amanda on their achievements!

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