Kathryn MacGregor has been on the Bowls Canada Board of Directors since 2017, moving her way from Director, to Vice-President, and now Chair of Bowls Canada. She is currently a member of the Stanley Park and Calgary Lawn Bowling Clubs and a highly involved advocate for parabowls in Canada. We are thrilled that Kathryn will be kicking off our new Board of Directors series.
Q: How did you first get into lawn bowls?
A: I have been a curler for over 40 years and when I retired, I was looking for a sport and social activity similar to curling that I could do in the summer. Lawn bowling was a natural fit and allowed me to continue curling in the winter.
Q: How have you been involved with parabowls and the sport in general over the years?
A: During my first year living in Windsor, Ontario, the club hosted the Blind Bowlers Association of Canada National Championship event and I volunteered to direct a visually impaired bowler. After this event, a visually impaired member at the Windsor club asked if I would be interested in being her director at a competition in Scotland. Unfortunately, I had made other travel plans and wasn’t able to attend the competition with her. However, this motivated me to learn more and give back to the game by becoming a volunteer coach and director for visually impaired bowlers.
When I moved to Calgary, there was a 93 year old visually impaired bowler that was looking for a director, as he planned to compete in the Blind Bowlers Association Canadian National Competition in Ladner BC. Naturally, I accepted and Bob proceeded to win a silver medal against a much younger bowler who was classified with more sight. I am still involved with parabowls and am currently coaching two visually impaired 14 year old boys to bowl and their mothers to become their Directors.
At the local level, I have also held various Board of Director positions at the Pickering, Windsor, Calgary and Stanley Park Lawn Bowling Clubs. While living in Windsor, I was President of the Windsor Lawn Bowling Club for three years.
Q: What do you like most about the sport?
A: What drew me initially to bowls was the social aspect and meeting new people, but there is also the thrill of competing – whether in your club, district, provincial or the Canadian nationals. I also enjoy the fact that the game of bowls is transferable. I first learned to bowl in Pickering, Ontario and the following year I moved to Windsor, Ontario. While on holidays, I have played in other provinces as well as other countries including Spain and the USA.
I am always encouraging others to try it. My husband started playing 4 years ago and he is now an active participant and volunteer. My brother in Ottawa also took up the sport a few years ago. It certainly is a sport for life and I’m like most people when I say – I wish that I had started bowling earlier.
Q: What are your responsibilities as the Chair of the Bowls Canada Board of Directors?
A: The Chair is responsible for the general supervision of the affairs and effective governance of the organization while overseeing the CEO. They promote the organization’s purpose in the community and in the media, provide leadership to the Board of Directors, and assist in the on-boarding of new board members. They also Chair the Board of Directors meetings, Provincial Presidents’ Council Meetings and the Annual General Meetings.
Q: Why is it important to have a board of directors?
A: The Board of Directors governs the organization at a high level and is responsible for providing insight and accountability. The board is responsible for overseeing the organization’s strategic planning and assumes the fiduciary role for the organization’s well- being while focusing on the organization’s mission, strategy and goals. While we rely on our staff to implement day to day operations, a Board of Directors is responsible for the policies and strategies that govern and guide the organization. Simply put, the directors on the board are the visionaries and stewards of an organization.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish while on the board? What personal skills and attributes do you believe will help you achieve this?
A: In my professional career, I was very goal oriented. Now that I am retired and a volunteer, I am still the same person. We’ve come to recognize that Bowls Canada has become a mature organization. As a leader, my focus this past year has been to implement best governance practices within the organization along with identifying and recruiting candidates that have the required skills and attributes to lead the organization into the future. I feel it is very important for Bowls Canada to provide Board members the opportunities for learning and growth with the aim of raising their collective performance levels.
Considering my experience as a coach and director for the visually impaired, implementing and expanding the Para Bowls program nationally is very important to me. Clubs that welcome all persons regardless of their age, ability, gender or race and provide a safe place to play bowls will benefit and grow their membership. Also, these clubs will gain valued recognition within their community.
One other goal has been to implement a plan to grow Bowls Canada’s Fundraising activities. As the Chair of the Fundraising Committee, we have made progress in this area and I am looking forward to what can be possible in 2022.
Q: What new challenges has this presented to you?
A: Although COVID-19 created a new set of challenges, it also provided the organization with the opportunity to implement new programs such as the Belonging in Bowls Club Accreditation program and the Safe Sport Strategy Framework with the goal of creating safe, welcoming and inclusive lawn bowling club environments where people want to stay and belong.
Another challenge has been the rapid evolution of amateur sport. Issues like safe sport and a global pandemic have really challenged leaders of all sports at all levels. Over the past two years, I’ve pursued professional development in topics such as risk management, governance best practices, and fundraising to name a few. Working virtually has been a new experience for everyone, and it’s been an interesting challenge to navigate online meeting platforms and shared work platforms like Google Drive. While we have all missed the face to face interactions, our Board’s growing proficiency in the virtual world has really enabled us to drive the development of the organization further.
Q: When you’re not playing or volunteering with the sport, how do you spend your time?
A: I have always enjoyed travelling. When I worked, my career required travelling nationally and internationally and I continue to do so in my retirement. I have a diploma in Landscaping and Horticulture so I enjoy working in the garden, and planning change ups for next season’s selection of flowers and plants. Last year my husband and I purchased an American Cocker Spaniel. Besides walking him, and playing with him, I have assumed the responsibility for his daily grooming and constant trimming. I also enjoy reading and loan books from the local library.
Q: What is a fun fact about yourself?
A: I’m not sure if this is considered “fun” but six years ago I was a widow living in Windsor, Ontario and I went on a tour of India. Included in our small group was a fellow from Calgary, Alberta. Within 6 months of this tour, I sold my house in Windsor and moved to Calgary …. the rest is history!