'I’ve been telling people it’s bittersweet': Executive director moves on after more than a decade with Downtown Mission

The Downtown Mission’s outgoing executive director says the time is right to move on and have someone else “cross the finish line” in efforts to fight homelessness.

Ron Dunn announced the plans in a news release on Thanksgiving Monday, that he is leaving his position as executive director at Windsor’s Downtown Mission to be CEO of Hospice Halifax.

“There’s never a good time to leave, but I also believe that it’s time,” Dunn says.

Dunn says the change came together quickly within the last month, noting his mother’s passing in 2016 gave new appreciation for hospice efforts.

“It was just such an incredible organization and to be honest, I never got hospice before that. Until you need it, right? I saw them as like, we’re all competing for dollars and they’re so good at it,” he says.

Dunn’s last day will be Friday, Nov. 5.

“It’s hard to leave for sure. I’ve been telling people it’s bittersweet,” Dunn explains. “But, I also think that it’s time. I think leadership needs to know when to come and need to know when to go.”

Dunn’s exit comes as the mission continues its efforts to find a new home after selling its main location in 2019 and after clashing with city officials amid a COVID-19 outbreak within the homeless community earlier this year.

“I think the next person has to be somebody that has the courage to continue but also doesn’t have the history that I might have with some in the community,” Dunn says.

Ward 3 coun. Rino Bortolin agrees the time for change is appropriate.

“It’s a good time to pass the baton,” says Bortolin.

Bortolin tells CTV News he believes Mission leadership should reach out to the city’s social services department and other organizations while searching for Dunn’s replacement.

“The position needs to be able to work, not in its own silo, but with every other organization in the city. It needs to be part of the larger system,” he says.

Bortolin believes recent investment from all levels of government to combat homelessness and the direction the city’s housing and homeless masterplan is taking are reasons for optimism.

“When you’re looking at a new building, when you’re looking at a new location, when you’re looking at all the changes that have happened with the housing and homelessness plan over the last few years, this is the perfect time to start fresh and start new with a new person at the helm,” he says.

The Downtown Mission's board says it will actively begin looking for a suitable successor to keep the organization moving forward and serving the community as it prepares to celebrate 50 years in the Windsor.