Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied


The Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) has a new CEO.

Janine North, NDIT’s first and only CEO, announced in August that she would retire come the fall after a “distinguished career of service”, and she would be replaced by Joel McKay, NDIT’s former director of communications.

“I feel honoured to have been selected to lead the Trust into its second decade,” says McKay, in his new role, which he officially started on Oct. 3.

“The north is my home, my family’s home, and I believe very passionately that the best economic decisions for the north should be made in the north,” he says.

McKay originally joined the Trust’s executive team in 2012, according to an NDIT official statement, and since then has been responsible for leading the Trust’s communications and marketing, economic research and analysis, in addition to the Fabulous Festivals and Events funding program.

Prior to joining the Trust, McKay was an award-winning business journalist in Vancouver specializing in coverage of the province’s natural resources industries, notably forestry, mining, oil and gas and renewable energy.

North spent more than a decade as CEO, according to NDIT, and undertook various projects of varying significance.

A good example of some of North’s projects begin with her first, according to Valemount’s Mayor, Jeannette Townsend, which was the Village’s office building, as well as its purchase of the Valemount Community Forest.

“This building was the NDIT’s first project, and she was a very strong advocate for Valemount,” Townsend said at the Oct. 25 council meeting.
“NDIT has some big shoes to fill,” she says.

Many other’s echoed Townsend’s sentiment, including NDIT’s Chair of the Board, Evan Saugstad.

“Janine’s retirement is one I accept with mixed emotions,” says Saugstad.

“I’m sad to see someone with her experience, desire and leadership skills leaving the Trust, while at the same time I’m happy and supportive of her decision to retire and begin experiencing life where work isn’t one’s main focus in life,” he says.

North stayed in her role as CEO for the months leading up to McKay’s selection, and she also stayed on to work with her successor to ensure a smooth transition in the early stages, an official statement from NDIT reads.

But according to Ms. North, she says NDIT has found the right person for the job, and she believes McKay’s work ethic and motivation to be of the same quality as her own.

“Joel has a passion for northern communities and building a stronger economy,” says North. “He has the vision and service ethic that will drive Northern Development to continued success over the next decade.”

NDIT, which formed in 2005, has used its resources to approve more than $150M in funding for more than 2,000 projects throughout central and northern B.C., according to it’s statement.

The Trust is sustainably managed with a capital base in excess of $250M, its statement reads, and it has two-dozen programs and services fostering collaboration, sustainability and diversification in the region’s communities.