Nicke Baird is settling in nicely as the new executive director of Northern Community Development Services (NCDS).
“I love it,” enthused Baird, who started in the position Feb. 10, replacing previous executive director Jennifer Greenhalgh, who retired after 18 years with the local organization.
“I do see it as an exciting new opportunity to work with the community on improving the employment and training here in the area,” she noted.
“I am very supportive of working together with organizations to build stronger and more efficient programs and opportunities.
“I just want to jump ahead a year, when I have a better understanding of this industry, and be able to start making some great relationships and improvements,” she added.
Baird, who was director of the Riverside Foundation for Health Care, as well as director of communications for Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc., for the past three-and-a-half years, admitted there has been a learning curve.
But she hasn’t “experienced a huge challenge yet.”
“I’ve done a lot of reading on effective management of a team and how to lead them in a productive, positive, progressive, and efficient manner,” she remarked.
“Creating a well environment and leading a team well is important to me,” Baird stressed.
“I believe when the team is happy in their job, it creates better environment for them and better service to the clients.
“The biggest challenge will be learning the ministry rules and regulations, and how I can work within their guidelines to make improvements,” she said.
“I’m very excited.”
Baird said she has certain goals and big ideas for NCDS, but right now has to learn more about the organization.
As such, she’s focusing on one-on-one meetings with staff, addressing any immediate issues, and building relationships with other organizations, “along with a ton of binder reading and, of course, making sure our great work with clients and employers continue.”
“I am open to all ideas and opportunities any organizations may have and welcome them to give me a call to discuss,” she added.
NCDS, in turn, was thrilled to hire Baird.
“Nicke is well-known for her energetic and outgoing personality,” NCDS board president Steve Maki said in a press release announcing her appointment.
“Her experience, enthusiasm, and the relationships she has fostered with community members will be tremendously beneficial to her success at NCDS,” he noted.
While youth out-migration continues to be a concern for small communities such as Fort Frances, some young professionals like Baird have chosen to return to their hometown in recent years and put down roots.
Baird said she already had lived in various countries and different parts of Canada, gaining life and work experience before coming back here.
“I wanted to explore life and live it to the fullest when I was younger before I decided to settle down,” she explained.
“My main reason for moving home was to be able to see my nephews grow up.
“Other reasons were to be close to my family, live the lake life, and to live a simpler life,” Baird added.
“I no longer wanted to commute 45 minutes to a job nor pay $250,000 for 1200 sq. ft. starter home that needed $50,000 worth of renos.”
She also said moving back here was “like a big sigh of relief.”
“I felt completed in the area of exploring the world and expanding my wings, and was ready to put down some roots,” Baird reasoned.
“I dreaded the thought of my parents and nephews growing older without me.
“It broke my heart to leave my nephews each time we visited, and I realized that all I ever looked forward to was to seeing them and coming home,” she added.
“So I decided to go where my heart was and I believed the rest would follow.
“And it has.”
Baird feels Fort Frances offers a simpler way of life, where one can put their roots down in a safe community that offers great lake life living and affordable housing.
“Through my work at [the] Riverside Foundation, it has shown what a great community spirit we have and I love being a part of that,” she said.
“I think Fort Frances is a great place to live. There are opportunities for young professionals here in town,” Baird continued.
“The wages may not be as high but it’s all relative.”