Kimberley Payne is a thought leader, a volunteer, and loves to lift others up.
My passion for building strong, safe, and healthy communities is evident in my life both at a professional level and personal commitment through my own values and mission statement.
As a professional, I am a seasoned executive director with more than 25 years of experience in the voluntary sector, the majority of which was spent working towards building safer, more caring communities. I enjoy the dynamics of working with a board of directors who are committed to the organization. I excel at building strong relationships that are strategic to the growth of the organization and strive to further strengthen relationships with key stakeholders.
My personal story is like so many others, different but the same in so many ways. Growing up was a contrast between living in a violent home where there was no love, and then spending as much time as I could with my grandparents. A place I felt safe, valued, and loved, and it literally saved me. My grandfather is my muse, a recent discovery as I hone my skills as a writer. He wasn’t easy, he was demanding of himself and everyone around him. He believed in me and saw something I always strived for, excellence. He also taught me that there is always another way to solve a problem, to think outside the box. He was perfectly imperfect. I felt so strongly about him that with my family’s permission I changed my last name to his, my maternal grandfather. I like to think he would be proud of that.
One thing I understand is that everyone has a story. Very few people live a life devoid of challenges, grief, and sadness. What we do with our story is how we shape our lives, how we write our life script. I believe very strongly that we have control of much of that script and that we can change outcomes if we change our thinking. For example, I was certain I would not live beyond 57, the age my father died at. None of his family lived to be old and I was sure that was my lot in life. However, I was convinced that if I changed my expectations, I could change the outcome. It has been a rough ride at times, but I know now that I am going to live a longer and fuller life than I ever thought possible. A friend has said to me on several occasions that she has never met someone who has reinvented themselves so many times and done so in a way that was always moving forward.
My five kids are all still alive and thriving despite my parenting abilities! They sure didn’t come with instructions, so I made them up as I went along. Knowing that the one thing I wanted for them was to know they were loved unconditionally. I wanted to break the cycle of physical and emotional abuse. They are incredible people, and I could not be prouder of them.
I have done everything from working at McDonald’s, decorating cakes, selling World Book Encyclopedias, running a Becker’s Milk Store, working in a canning facility and so much more. All of that before I turned 30.
Oh, and gave birth to all those kids during that time! I went to university at night and studied Social Work until my professor said that I was in the wrong field. I wanted to fix people, tell them how to solve their problems. The opposite of what is needed to be excellent in that scope of work. I am and always have been a ‘fixer’ a ‘problem solver’. So, I made the conscious decision to move into a field of work where I could support the organizations that do the work I was not cut out to do. I became a fund developer and community builder; I found my passion. As the executive director of our local United Way, I was engaged in work that shaped and formed my personal vision statement, and I discovered what I believed in had always been there trying to find a way out. I had volunteered in so many organizations: soccer leagues, girl guides, my church, our cooperative nursery school, and many fundraisers. I was already doing what I was excellent at, I just didn’t know it.
Two marriages later, I refuse to say, “failed marriages,” they just weren’t right for us, but resulted in some pretty great kids and grandkids, I have now found my person. I have weathered many crises, some serious and scary. I have been buffeted by the storms of life. My career has been diverse and mostly fulfilling. I have had the privilege and opportunity to lead several organizations including a United Way, the renowned Stratford Chefs School, and two hospital Foundations. I started to learn to play the Celtic Harp at the age of 50 and have been a dog mom to the most amazing Goldendoodle companion, Jazzy. I am a rectal cancer survivor. These things don’t define me, but they curate who I have become. I am stronger, more resilient, and more evolved. I have great joy and love in my life, I am happy.
The future. I still have big ideas and big plans for myself and for my community. I love my Fermented Femmes, a group of four women who created an award-winning craft beer festival for women. I am passionate about women in leadership roles and will do whatever I can to support them, and a small start was the creation of The Engaged Women of Huron, a safe virtual place for them to discuss and engage in the work of politics in Canada. I am a compelling communicator who believes in the power of personal stories and that they can change lives in real, tangible ways. I intend to employ that skill in writing and speaking and supporting people however I can.