Debra Wozniak has been working behind the scenes to build the community through Community Futures since 1990 and now she is retiring.
“The work was so varied and so interesting, every day was a new challenge,” Wozniak said. “It kept me wanting to come back and do more and do better for the community.”
Wozniak has deep roots in Revelstoke as her family moved to the area in the early 1900s. Though she did leave for almost 10 years to pursue a degree at U of C in commerce, as well as other things, she came back.
At the time Doug Weir, the original manager at Community Futures, approached her to do some work with him, and that is where it all began.
Since then Wozniak has worked on a wide variety of projects with many different people and non-profit organizations including the Revelstoke Housing Society, the early caribou recovering programming, the development of the Railway Museum as well as the Columbia Basin Trust community initiatives programming.
Nearest and dearest to her heart however, is the creation of the Revelstoke Community Foundation.
“It’s one of those projects that just keeps bringing back rewards every year,” she said.
Wozniak’s short term plans include house renovations and travelling with her husband. She said it is going to be hard to let go, however she still plans on being involved in the community.
“I do still want to stay involved in the community somehow, just haven’t quite figured out one role and where. I’m hoping I have some skills that someone could benefit from,” she said with a laugh.
She will be missed at Community Futures and by many of the people she worked with throughout the years.
“She’s just absolutely articulate, very detail oriented,” said Kevin Dorrius, general manager of Community Futures. “One of her areas of expertise that she is able to help pretty much every organization in town in terms of governance, not-for-profit structure, just extremely detail oriented.”
He added that Wozniak doesn’t want and has never wanted to be in the spotlight
“That’s one of the things that makes her as effective as she is,” he said. “She is not out to get any headlines or pats on the back, she just comes to work, does her job incredibly and isn’t looking for accolades.”
For Brooke Burke, Wozniak has been a mentor and an inspiration.
“She just has a huge heart for the community,” she said.
Lynda LaFleur, of the Columbia Basin Trust, also wishes Wozniak well in her retirement.
“It has always been a pleasure working with Debra – she has her finger on the pulse of Revelstoke and knows who does what,” she said. “I have appreciated Debra’s professionalism and quick smile as she juggles the mountain of files on her desk.”
Alan Mason, the former director of community economic development initiatives with the city, worked with Wozniak on many projects and sings her high praises.
“It’s easy sitting around coming up with ideas, the hard part is making them happen,” he said.
She was a player in the development and growth of many key community organizations, he added.
“She was a real asset for the community.”
But Wozniak insisted that it wasn’t just her.
“I really developed my broader concept of community economic development from some very, very committed mentors, Doug Weir, Ken Magnus, Geoff Battersby and Alan Mason,” she said.