Catholic Family Services Society of Regina CEO Sandi Urban, is feeling quite comfortable in her role; she moved into the position 11 months ago. Urban became Executive Director of CFSS April 1, 2017 after the retirement of David Sax. Sax had 34 years of service with the agency, 21 of those as Executive Director.
Urban is a mother of four who spent 15 years at Sasktel after obtaining a B.A. English from the University of Saskatchewan. She accepted a voluntary retirement package from SaskTel to become a stay-at home mom when the crown corporation went through a downsizing exercise. She was elected a Trustee with the Prairie Valley School Division and during her time there was elected to the executive committee of the Saskatchewan School Board Association and served as president of the provincial organization, followed by a year as President of the Canadian School Board Trustees Association.
She describes herself as a policy wonk and began accepting small contracts with non-profit organizations helping them with policy work and that led her into thinking about getting back to some kind of full-time paying occupation. “I needed to find a job with purpose. The greater purpose is what I need to get up in the morning. So, I knew what the job had to feel like.”
She responded to an ad by an executive search company, was interviewed to establish her credentials, and was eventually hired by CFSS. “I immediately felt this is I where I am supposed to be,” she said when she walked through the door for the first time. She acknowledged a steep learning curve, “I hate those first few months when you feel you don’t know anything;” but her only real surprise was how quickly she felt at home in her new job. “Everyone was so helpful.”
Catholic Family Services Society officially began as the Catholic Welfare Society in 1937 by the Sisters of St. Martha who came to Regina Archdiocese at the invitation of Archbishop Monahan. CFSS now offers several programs, including family and individual counselling, marriage preparation programs, and operates a 50-space day care service.
Urban says CFSS faces the usual challenges of most non-profits, funding. It receives funding from United Way but donations to that charity are not what they used to be and CFSS has also had its United Way funds cut “substantially.” Some funding is received from the Regina Archdiocese Bishop’s Appeal but exists largely on private donations and a fee-for-service system that is scaled according to income.
She has been exploring relations with the Regina Catholic, Public and Prairie Valley School Divisions to see how they can support families together. “The schools are experiencing budget cuts but the needs are great – anxiety and depression are trending upwards, unfortunately with kids. We are looking to see how we can support kids and their families before those problems become full blown diagnoses.”