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John Kim Bell retires


Debora Steel, Windspeaker Staff Writer, Toronto







Page 15

John Kim Bell, the founder of the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, has taken yet another step away from the organization he has led for the past decade.

Former chairman of the board Bill Shead made the announcement in a letter to stakeholders on June 11. The letter states that effective May 31, Bell retired as president of the foundation.

This announcement comes on the heels of a statement in February that Bell was relinquishing some of his duties at the foundation, keeping his job as executive producer of the annual National Aboriginal Achievement Awards show and maintaining his work in government relations.

At the time, Shead told Windspeaker that Bell was "still going to be carrying a high profile" with the foundation. Shead said the work of the foundation had just become too big for one person.

"I think that he came to the realization that the foundation is large and somebody else is going to have to help him."

When asked if there were opposing views between Bell and the board about the future of the foundation driving Bell's decision to relinquish control of the organization's day-to-day administration, Shead was terse and adamant.

"Nope," he said. "I don't think that he's not prepared to continue on. It's we need more horses to drive this dream forward."

Shead had told Windspeaker that Bell was expected to have input into the strategic direction of the foundation and continue to fund-raise for it.

"John Kim Bell has been very successful in raising funds and getting sponsors in support for the foundation and for the show. It's something that he does extremely well and the board wants him to continue that involvement."

With Bell's resignation, it's not clear what the implications are for the foundation or its fundraising efforts. Last year the foundation's revenues totaled $8.3 million. Windspeaker asked to interview new foundation chair Len Flett, but he declined. Flett was made chair at the foundation's annual general meeting in mid-June. He said he was too new to the job and needed more time than our deadline (June 16) would allow to consider his public response on the subject of Bell's retirement. While new to the chair, Flett has been on the board of directors of the foundation for several years.

Shead's letter to the stakeholders indicates Bell is not completely out of the picture, however.

"We look forward to an ongoing relationship with him in the production of the 2005 National Aboriginal Achievement Awards," Shead wrote. He said an executive search is in progress for a new CEO.

"In the interim, the board is pleased to announce that Deanie Kolybabi has been appointed acting executive director," though that announcement had been previously made in February.