Rita Chénier said she feels like she’s come home.
The Sudbury native is on the third week in her new position as executive director of Family and Children Services here, taking the helm from Betty McLeod who retired at the end of April.
“I love the area,” she enthused Friday, noting she had worked in the Kenora district in 1989. “When I came up here for the interview, I knew I was back home.”
Chénier has been working in social work for more than 20 years, adding her parents influenced her decision to enter the field.
“I guess because my parents were foster parents for the Children’s Aid Society of Sudbury,” she noted.
She earned an honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work from the University of Sudbury, and a Masters in Social Work (Social Services Administration) from Laval University in Québec City.
She’s worked in Ontario, Québec, and the Yukon, starting out as a front-line social worker and gradually moving up through management.
“This is my first permanent executive director position,” she said, adding the big challenge is familiarizing herself with the day-to-day operations.
“Right now, it’s getting to know the agency, the people in the agency, and the community,” Chénier said. “The people are really friendly and upfront.
“I think I’ll probably appreciate that the most,” she added. “These are committed people who really want to do their best for the community.”
FACS is an integrated agency offering a wide variety of programs such as mental health counselling, supervised access, and family relief. Many other agencies offer only children’s protection, Chénier noted.
The grandmother of six also plans to take advantage of the area’s natural beauty. She’s hoping to explore the district by popping her canoe atop her camper and heading out on the weekends.
“It’s a nice place to be. I’m happy to be back in the north,” she said.