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Management Scholarships benefit managers like Davin and Jen – and their co-ops

Published December 15, 2022

Increased confidence, better decision-making, and an enhanced understanding of financing options don’t hurt when you’re trying to run a co-op.

2021 CHF Canada Management Scholarships helped Davin Thornborrow and Jen Kroh gain valuable insights into how to work more effectively for the benefit of the co-ops they manage.

Davin Thornborrow

Davin is the manager of Victoria Park Community Homes in Hamilton, Ontario, and interim manager at Cavendish Co-operative Homes in Burlington. His first exposure to co-op housing was through a job at a credit union.

“I then moved into a co-op, and saw how much they help people. I noticed that the decisions the board made were often the ones that the manager recommended. That kind of leadership role appealed to me, as did the opportunity to have influence.”

Davin’s first management job was through Homestarts. When a peer recommended the CHF Canada Management Scholarship, he applied, and is now in his second year in the Master of Management, Co-operative and Credit Unions through St. Mary’s University in Halifax.

“I didn’t have a background in business. So learning business-related skills has been valuable. For instance, looking at profitability over the long-term helps you write a capital budget, and building best practices around diversity, equity, and inclusion could potentially benefit any co-op. It’s already helped my own ability to manage the co-op.”

Davin definitely encourages other managers to apply.  “More education is always beneficial, and education is one of the seven co-op principles. It doesn’t have to be as serious as a three-year Master’s program. There are shorter courses, and management companies often give their staff an opportunity to take these courses, but what’s lacking is the same opportunity for independent hires. The CHF Canada Management Scholarship fills that gap. It was good to have the support.”

Jen Kroh

Jen Kroh manages Gilzean’s Creek Housing Co-operative in Strathroy, Ontario. She’s in the midst of a six-course program leading to a property management certificate

“I learned about the scholarship program at a CHF Canada annual meeting. I felt like I was strong in a lot of areas, but in other areas, I didn’t have as much confidence.”

Jen was working as an administrator at a women’s shelter when someone brought her the job posting for manager at Gilzean’s Creek. She was acutely aware of the need for housing, and wanted to work in the non-profit sector. It seemed like a good opportunity for more management level experience, but she soon realized there were things she needed to learn if she was going to be as effective as she wanted to be. In particular, she felt she could use more expertise in skills such as construction, repairs and legalities around maintenance.

“As well, the co-op was approaching the end of mortgage, and I wanted to learn how I could support the board in planning for that.”

Although some of her courses do not focus specifically on co-op housing, Jen has found that the information is still relevant to her job.  “One course that deals with the building envelope, capital planning, and maintenance has opened my eyes to things we should be doing, or things we should be doing more often.”

She feels her increased understanding and newfound confidence have a ripple effect into the co-op.  “It’s easier to make decisions and make them more quickly when you have confidence. Financial forecasting has become really important, and I’m far better prepared now to plan ahead for the co-op’s success.”

Jen hopes other managers apply for the scholarship.  “Whether you’re new, or you have many years of experience, everything is always changing. What was considered best practice ten years ago might now be different. Keeping up to date in your education never hurts!”

August 1, 2023 is the *new* deadline to apply for a Management Scholarship.

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