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Rachel Vander Vennen is L'Arche Saint John's new community leader/executive director. Image: L'Arche Saint John

New executive director of L’Arche Saint John

By Brad Perry Apr 3, 2023 | 10:56 AM

The new executive director and community leader of L’Arche Saint John is a familiar face within the organization.

Rachel Vander Vennen is described as the person behind the organization’s recent successes in fundraising and communications.

“Rachel is a natural leader with exceptional talents, whose commitment to excellence and to L’Arche Saint John has significantly elevated our profile and our discipline in raising funds — both essential to our ambitions,” president and board chair Dave Stonehouse said in a news release.

“At the same time, she is someone of warmth and deep care for others who believes wholeheartedly in our mission to make known the gifts of people with intellectual disabilities.”

Vander Vennen has served L’Arche Saint John as its community development coordinator since 2020.

Before that, she worked with L’Arche Chicago and with Romero House in Toronto supporting refugees.

Officials said Vander Vennen was chosen after a recruitment process that drew applications from around the world.

“I look forward to working with our amazing team, members and partner organizations to build a more inclusive society where adults with intellectual disabilities are celebrated for their contributions,” she said in the news release.

Vander Vennen is replacing Zoël Breau, who is leaving Saint John after five years for a position with L’Arche Montreal. Breau will stay on for the month of April as an adviser to Vander Vennen.

“As a leader, it is a luxury to be able to leave knowing that your successor is a person of Rachel’s calibre, knowing that she has a vision and a love for L’Arche Saint John that will allow for new growth in the community,” said Breau.

Founded in 2005, L’Arche Saint John is a community of people with and without intellectual disabilities.

The non-profit operates McKim House on the city’s west side and the Creative Connections art studio and program uptown on Prince William Street.

It also recently launched the L’Arche Connects program for supported independent living. Four adults with intellectual disabilities will move into apartments of their own at The Wellington complex, operated by Saint John Non Profit Housing.


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