“In a lot of these things you go in naïve about the reality. But if we knew how hard it would be maybe we wouldn’t do it. There were a lot of hurdles and barriers in our projects, but one of the things about Quint is we persevere.”
Len Usiskin started with Quint in March of 1998, when he was originally hired on as the Community Economic Development Manager. He had recently completed his masters and was very drawn to work with a new community economic development organization.
From day one, Len has jumped in feet first when it came to seizing opportunities to grow and evolve Quint. On the second day on the job, Len had to call up the provincial Deputy Minister to secure core funding for the organization. He has been a strong leader, advocate and champion for Quint ever since.
Quint was evolving very quickly in the beginning and Len had a strong hand in ensuring that the funding and structures were in place to keep pace, specifically with the Neighbourhood Home Ownership Program (NHOP) “The first few years were a very intensive growth period, and that was what really solidified Quint’s reputation in the community and in the eyes of funders.”
As other opportunities came forward to expand Quint’s offerings, Len played a major role in negotiating funding and the behind the scenes development work. Len acquired all of the major pieces of property and buildings for Quint’s affordable housing programs, and Len has had a crucial seat at the table through the development of all of Quint’s forthcoming programs. Quint’s latest program Build Up Saskatoon, developed out of a conversation between Len and a colleague, his desire to build a local social economy, and the grit to make it happen. All of these programs have become important assets in the community.
Len has extraordinary vision and he is able to bring people together to make things happen. Station 20 West is a shining example of that. He was instrumental from start to finish with the project, and has been the co-manager since the building opened in 2012. He was also on the board of directions of the Good Food Junction before it closed in 2016. When the government pulled funding for the building, he kept up the momentum of fundraising. The generosity of the community, and the walk for Station 20 West is something that Len will always remember:
“When thousands of people showed up for the walk, I was shocked. People thought, here was a very concrete initiative in a very meaningful and real way that was addressing poverty issues in the core neighbourhoods. And they could see it tangibly. The government tried to quash it and people felt an injustice about that.”
Len’s personal vision has always aligned closely with Quint’s vision to create strong vibrant neighbourhoods. He brought a strong voice to the core communities, and his knowledge around community economic development has paved the way for Quint’s work.
Staff will miss Len’s humour around the office. You could always count on Len for a ‘good’ dad joke. At the end of every December, before staff headed out on holidays, he was sure to say to them “See you next year!”
Len is leaving behind a legacy of generosity, tenacity and community development. Thank you for your dedication to Quint, staff and our core communities. Happy Retirement Len!!