Jade Arignon, Jen Casorso, and Erin Welk step into company leadership roles, launching a new era of growth and impact for Urban Matters CCC
By Pauline Sydenham, Communications Specialist
December 12, 2022
Scribbled deep somewhere within Jade Arignon’s old notes are two big letters written inside a big circle: UM. From the very beginning, Jade was drawn, perhaps destined, to be a part of Urban Matters (UM).
Though she was originally hired as a project coordinator for Urban Systems, her strong interest in social systems and issues quickly brought her into the world of Urban Matters – a social enterprise within the Urban group of companies that is focused on addressing complex social issues and funding systems-level solutions. Now nearly six years later, she is one of three new company leaders at UM.
On December 1, 2022, Jade, Jen Casorso, and Erin Welk officially stepped into their role as co-CEOs, earning the honour from company founder Ken Gauthier. The trio is modelling a management approach known as distributed leadership.
“The systems change work we tackle is inherently collaborative,” Erin says. “Distributing leadership across our team draws on that same perspective. The three of us have different backgrounds and perspectives in how we approach our work. That makes us stronger.”
Erin is known as the fearless innovator. Never satisfied with the status quo, she is constantly pushing the team at Urban Matters towards new horizons. Her career at Urban is characterized by exploring various challenges, testing new approaches, and designing impactful initiatives. Naturally entrepreneurial, she brings a flare for innovation and an undeniable energy to go for big things.
Leading alongside her is Jen, who can be described as a nurturer – of relationships, of clients, and of UM values. She is a natural facilitator with a strong internal sense of empathy and curiosity. She balances commitments to community and organization in a way that leaves you wondering how she does it all. All of this while growing the UM team and practice areas with optimism and humility.
Jade brings it all together. She builds the connective tissues from operations to strategy, team members to clients, and projects to market demand. She provides a safe and trusting environment for UM team members to pursue their passions and do their best work. She gives incredible pep talks and brings deep insight into company culture and operations. In a people-focused organization, Jade’s humour, empathy, and listening skills are invaluable.
The three women represent the new generation of innovators and professionals who are spearheading the next phase of UM’s growth and impact. As a Community Contribution Company with a mandate to contribute at least 60 percent of its profits back to community, Urban Matters is poised to amass annual community contributions upwards of $500,000.
“One of the things I’m excited about is Urban Matters truly becoming a funder of systems change,” says Erin. “With our annual contributions, how are we serving as catalysts for systems-level change? How might we partner with other companies and organizations to amplify our impact? This is something you can expect to see from UM over the next few years, a continuous focus on being at the cutting-edge of systems change funding and investing.”
Though the new leadership team has an exciting vision for UM’s path ahead, they are also united in their deep gratitude and appreciation for its founding leader. In 2014, Ken launched Urban Matters as a subsidiary of Urban Systems, creating an additional platform for Urban to live out its core commitment of serving communities.
“Ken laid the foundation, set the stage, and started the show,” says Jen. “He had immense vision. His steadfast approach to leadership is an important and critical part of the Urban Matters creation story. The most valuable lessons I learned from him were to stay true to yourself, follow your intuition, and be honest and self-aware.”
Jade adds that although it’s not easy to follow in the footsteps of a founding leader, she looks forward to seeing the new leadership team’s management style emerge.
“The overall direction and strategy of the new team is collaboration,” Jade says. “Jen, Erin, and I each have different skill sets that make us a very impactful team. It’s incredibly humbling to be among this trio of women leaders who have carved an impressive path for themselves at Urban and in our communities.”
Join us in officially welcoming Jade, Erin, and Jen to their roles as co-CEOs of Urban Matters CCC!