Empowering Change: Gladys Hrabi Takes on Leadership Role at CHAM

29 April, 2024 | Profiles

Gladys Hrabi has found the perfect role for her skillset: Executive Director of the Catholic Health Association of Manitoba (CHAM), a voluntary, provincial association dedicated to the healing Ministry of the Catholic Church.

“When I first saw the role, I didn’t know anything about CHAM, which was kind of weird because I’m Filipino and we’re pretty devoutly Catholic,” Hrabi says with a chuckle. “But I got excited pretty quickly, as this is a good combination of my values and my passion for healthcare. It’s a good match, a chance for me to translate my skills into action and change.”

Indeed, Hrabi has extensive experience as a clinical social worker at Deer Lodge Centre, working as a supervisor in areas such as the Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) clinic and the comprehensive geriatric clinic. She was also the Executive Director of the Manitoba Brain Injury Association for a time. Much of her education was completed in Catholic universities, where she also worked as a counsellor supporting spiritual formation for the students.

She was inspired to find leadership roles in healthcare after she felt her experiences on the front lines limited what changes she could make. “I did my Master Degree on access to care for brain injury survivors in Manitoba,” Hrabi explains. “When I wrote that, I had this vision of how we could really make a difference. I wanted to help people get access to better care. But I quickly realized my hands were tied. Now, with this role, I have some wiggle room. I have the space and the venue to help influence change. This is what I was meant to do, a chance for the initial plan to come to fruition and to combine all of the things that I’ve learned in my career so far.”

While she admits that the learning curve is steep, as her role also includes leadership for the Interfaith Health Care Association and the Manitoba Association of Residential and Community Care Homes for Everyone (MARCHE), Hrabi knows she is surrounded by a supportive group of colleagues and advocates. “In this role, building relationships is the most important thing,” Hrabi explains. “With a community job like this one, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you just have to widen your spokes. I want to create more collaborations because we’re all working towards the same goals.”

Hrabi is grateful to all those who are already working in the sector, and to those who came before her, especially Julie Turenne-Maynard who held the Executive Director role until her retirement in 2024. “I tell people I’m the new Julie,” she shares with a smile. “It’s the easiest way to get people to understand what I’m up to. And she left me very big shoes to fill but I’m so grateful for the community and my new colleagues. We’ll forge a path forward together.”