Shelley White joined RGC as CEO in February of this year, having held executive positions with the YMCA of Greater Toronto, the Kidney Foundation of Canada, and most recently with United Way of Peel Region as President and CEO for 13 years.
Find out a bit more about Shelley in this Q & A. And be sure to join her at RGC’s Discovery 2017 (April 18-20 in Toronto). Space is limited so register today.
What are some of your impressions of RGC so far?
I am thrilled to join RGC. It truly is a centre of excellence for responsible gambling. The organization is doing important work in preventing and reducing the impact of problem gambling, and it’s doing it in progressive and innovative ways.
I am very encouraged by the Board members’ support, and their commitment to the mission and vision both in Canada and globally. And, I couldn’t be more impressed with the talented and knowledgeable staff—they are subject matter experts whose dedication is apparent in everything they do.
I know that I have big shoes to fill. For 19 years, Jon Kelly built on the organization’s foundation to create a tremendously impactful and credible organization. I take my role in building on his legacy very seriously. Jon has been extremely supportive and will continue to be involved in the organization’s work.
Looking ahead to the next few months, what are your priorities?
My first priority is meeting people. Our key relationships and partners are many, and diverse. They include operators, regulators, government ministries, treatment providers, researchers, industry groups and other organizations in Ontario, across Canada and around the world. These connections are critical to what we do, and I intend to talk to everyone I can—to increase my knowledge about the sector, and to explore new approaches and practices in our field.
One of the best opportunities for these conversations is undoubtedly Discovery, RGC’s conference in Toronto in April. I look forward to meeting all of our partners and stakeholders there. And beyond that, my door is always open, so I invite people to get in touch.
RGC has a busy year ahead, and the next few months are critical planning periods for our fall education and awareness programs like Problem Gambling Prevention Week, kts2 and Game Brain. The PlaySmart Centre roll-out is also gaining momentum, as our resource centres in gaming venues across Ontario are updated and rebranded to this new model. The RGC Centre for the Advancement of Best Practices’ Insight project on electronic gaming machines is also underway, which is examining barriers to safer play and exploring ways to influence behaviour. And of course, the RG Check team is hard at work conducting accreditations and re-accreditations of gambling venues across the country and internationally.
What does RGC look like, do you think, in 2020?
In 2020, RGC will have increased its reach and impact of our mission to prevent problem gambling and reduce its impacts across Canada and globally. We do this specifically through providing effective public education and awareness, expanding standards and accreditation, conducting vital research, influencing decision makers and building strategic partnerships.
With our partners, we will have continued to diversify our approaches and strategies to be effective in a multitude of gaming environments, including emerging ones.
In short, more people than ever will know what they can do to prevent gambling-related problems in their own lives, and more prevention best practices will be in place.
You’ve got a diverse background. Tell us a little about it, and how it prepares you for RGC.
The biggest single thread in my career and as a volunteer is relationship building for collaborative change. I have cultivated partnerships with all levels of government, corporations and non-profits of all sizes, community service providers and ethno-cultural groups. I have also been involved in many education and prevention programs ranging from poverty reduction to mental health to disease prevention to student success.
I also have a deep understanding of what it takes to bring our Canadian experience to the world, as I have helped groups in other countries with their prevention, education, community development and public policy strategies.
In every instance, the keys are: strategic thinking, building teams, and cultivating partnerships that value diversity and embrace change to achieve results.
Do you gamble?
Any gambling I’ve done has been recreational—I’ve been to a few casinos and played a bit for fun. Since starting here at RGC, I have heard from a number of people who’ve told me about their own, family members’ or friends’ experience of gambling related problems.
The other day, I was on a streetcar in Toronto that featured one of our Stop the Chase ads, and I overheard a father and son discussing it. I listened as the father talked about the concept of randomness and it struck me just how valuable conversations like that are: the more informed people are, the more they can make choices that reduce their risks. And, it’s critical that we continue to ensure gambling is provided in a responsible way.
I couldn’t be more excited to be contributing to that work with the RGC team – now more than 85 strong – with the integrity and commitment that has been its defining feature for almost 35 years.
Don’t miss your chance to meet Shelley and participate in Discovery 2017, a sector-leading conference, in Toronto, April 18 to 20, 2017.