New Executive Director appointed for NEOSS

NEOSS Photo. Joan Bear is the new executive director of Northeast Outreach and Support Services (NEOSS).

Northeast Outreach and Support Services (NEOSS) recently announced the appointment of a new permanent Executive Director in Joan Bear.

NEOSS is a leading non-profit charity specializing in enhancing safety and wellness of individuals and families in crisis. The non-profit is based in Melfort but serves the Northeast.

The move to the Melfort area brings Bear closer to home.

“My husband has some medical concerns and I needed to work closer to home, so now I’m able to be home every night,” Bear said.

“Previously, I was working over at Battleford Agency Tribal Chiefs and I was away during the week. I had to commute home on the weekends, so here I am.”

Bear succeeds Wayne Hellquist and Hayley Kennedy, who served as the organization’s interim directors for seven months. Bear said that the search was quite thorough, and NEOSS stood out to her as a fine organization.

“I did an in-depth research into their web page, looked at their audited financial statements, and I said, ‘hey, this organization seems to have a really strong attraction to my values and my beliefs and I think we can do really good work together,’” Bear said.

One goal Bear has for 2024 is to bring together like-minded agencies to collaborate. She said COVID showed a lot of agencies were quite isolated, and that’s something she wants to change.

“I would really like to to bring all the agencies and services in Northeast Saskatchewan together to just even have a meet and greet in the New Year, share ideas, share resources and start that collaboration process,” Bear said.

“We can all do a much better job at working together for client centred service provision here,” she added.

Bear began her position on Nov. 27 and said that she has had a chance to meet with all of the program heads.

“They are all excited to do really positive and great things in the in the new year (and) in the future,” she said. “I’ve managed to turn the organization on its head, just really positive energy and synergy working with these folks. They really want to make a difference, and I think they’re doing amazing work here in the Northeast.”

Another goal for 2024 is to help resurrect the Melfort HUB program. Bear said the people trying to get the program going reached out and asked if she would be on the steering committee. She quickly agreed.

“I said, ‘that’s absolutely fantastic.’ I think we can make a really positive difference in getting the hub resurrected in Melfort and get things going in a in a good way,” Bear said.

Bear brings a wealth of expertise in homeless shelters as a former board member of the George Spady Homeless Shelter in Edmonton. She also oversaw the Emergency Homeless Transition Shelter in North Battleford.  Her background is rich with over 30 years experience in senior management, board governance, fundraising, program development and community partnerships.

As the former CEO of Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs and Executive Director for Muskoday First Nation, she significantly expanded innovative community partnerships and secured public funding. Bear has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the University of Lethbridge, Bear has also held key roles such as Executive Director for Trade Winds to Success, an Alberta Multilevel Partnership between Federal, Provincial, 4 Trade Unions and 3 First Nations and the Metis Labour Force Development stakeholders to train First Nations, Metis and Inuit with skills to meet the Construction Trades apprenticeship needs in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta. 

She served as the Director of Clinical Programs and Services for nine years with the Prince Albert Cooperative Health Centre leading a team of health professionals and medical staff. Bear is no stranger put herself through college and university in the evenings, while working full time and serving executive roles with numerous non-profit boards and committees in the Edmonton area and still managed to raise a family.

Established in 1984 by a dedicated group of people, NEOSS focuses on meaningful action to empower families and individuals facing safety and wellness crises.  With a reputation for support service provision in Melfort, Tisdale, Nipawin and surrounding areas, NEOSS remains dedicated to building strong community supports and partnering with stakeholders to enhance family and individual safety.   NEOSS recently completed a very successful community funded capital project to build the facilities on McKendry Avenue in Melfort.

NEOSS operates a 16 bed Emergency Family Violence Shelter and a 12 bed Emergency Receiving Home for children under age 12 in the North East Region, as well as providing Family Violence Outreach counselling services, Melfort Youth Evolution and runs the 24-7 Emergency Crisis Line for the area.

She said that the Treehouse Receiving Home is doing well and NEOSS recently met with the Ministry of Social Services to discuss programming and service provisions.

“We’re one of the best practice places in Saskatchewan,” Bear said. “We have people from other places who are coming here to look at our model of how we’re doing service provision so we’re striving to be the best of the best of the best if we can be.

“The ministry is very happy to work with us to let us know if we’re doing something not quite right. They’re very happy to get on board and assist us with making sure we have the best possible service provision for these kids,” she explained.

NEOSS is funded primarily through grants from the Provincial Ministries of Justice and Social Services and through the generous donations of concerned citizens and businesses in the North East Region.

Co-Chairs Blair Michaliew and Kristin Lee, expressed excitement in a release by NEOSS.

“Joan Bear’s positive energy, vision, and extensive leadership experience in non-profit organizational development, health, education, shelters, and executive leadership in First Nations organizations will fortify NEOSS, propelling it to new heights.”

“Our Board of Directors is fantastic. I’ve had a chance to meet them all and they’re just an awesome group of people to work with and I look forward to really positive things in the future,” Bear said.