Rona Park is retiring as executive director of Nelson Community Services. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Nelson Community Services executive director retires

Rona Park has led the organization for seven years

Submitted by Nelson Community Services

Nelson Community Services bids farewell to Rona Park after seven years as executive director and welcomes Kathleen Newson into the role.

Rona leaves a legacy as a dedicated and tireless community activist and advocate for families, youth, and individuals in crisis. During her tenure, she has made many contributions to the agency and the community, especially the creation of the Street Outreach Program, which Rona has taken from a pilot project to now a fully funded service for the community.

Kathleen will begin her new role on Oct. 5. Kathleen has a Master’s Degree in Voluntary Administration and a Bachelor Degree in Communications. She brings more than 20 years experience in the not-for-profit community sector with a passion and compassion for the needs of other people, especially those experiencing difficulties. Kathleen served in leadership roles in the United Kingdom at national, regional and local levels. Prior to joining NCS, Kathleen worked for Interior Health. She lives in Nelson with her husband and two children.

During her last month, Rona will focus on supporting the transition of Kathleen as the new executive director. While COVID-19 has certainly made Rona’s last year at NCS even more memorable, it has been just one more challenge in her long and varied career.

“NCS has served the community for almost 50 years and is well respected by its stakeholders and clients. As the outstanding professional that Rona is, she has continued to champion the legacy of quality services for the community. Her breadth of knowledge and experience aligned with her deep compassion for serving the community has allowed the agency to grow and has enabled NCS to fulfill its vision,” says board chair Cathy Leugner.

“As difficult as it is to say farewell to Rona who brought so much of her heart and soul to the agency, we are excited to hand over the reins to Kathleen whose passion lies within the social public sector and brings a wealth of varied experiences and competencies to the agency.”

Over 37 years, Rona has been a visionary leader, having served as executive director at both Nelson CARES and Castlegar and District Community Services. She was also a founding member of the Kootenay Boundary Community Services Cooperative, the Nelson Street Culture Collaborative, and Nelson at Its Best, a community development and poverty reduction organization.

She was also part of PRISM (Partners in a Regional Integrated Service Model), which continues to seek service alignment for families and individuals across the West Kootenays. For the past three years, Rona has been an active board member of the Federation of Community Social Services of BC. The staff and board of directors thank Rona for her commitment and professionalism to the agency and the community.

“Rona’s service to the region has marked a movement to deep and meaningful collaboration that has benefited countless individuals,” says Jenny Robinson, executive director of Nelson CARES.

The celebration day for Rona will be Friday, Oct. 2nd. For well wishes and info, please email:

affordable housingopioid crisisPoverty reduction

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