Home News Head & Hands finds heart and soul in new director

Head & Hands finds heart and soul in new director

by The Concordian February 7, 2012
Head & Hands finds heart and soul in new director

Jon McPhedran Waitzer is the new director of NDG non-profit organization Head & Hands

Montrealʼs champions of youth empowerment and positive social change, NDG-based Head & Hands, has welcomed new director Jon McPhedran Waitzer.

As he enters his new position, McPhedran Waitzer becomes part of a decades-old legacy of social change for the cityʼs youth, a legacy that has become an especially vital part of the Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce community. Sitting with him to discuss his new role in his office on Sherbrooke Street, he exhibited a level of contentment that shows he could not be more thrilled to be on board.
“People bring their whole selves to work here in a way that Iʼve never encountered anywhere else,” Jon said of his new team.
Offering a multitude of services aimed at promoting the physical and mental well-
being of Montrealʼs youth since its inception in 1970, Head & Hands has become the unofficial home of positive activism in NDG. By offering free social, legal and medical counselling, drop-in clinics and much more, the group has become a trusted, welcoming space for thousands of Montrealʼs young people. With over 320 volunteers contributing over 9,000 work hours in the last year alone, it’s easy to compare the group to something of a family.
“This is an organization that approaches social change in a way that includes a
cultural aspect, which is so rare,” he said. “It really is like a big happy family.”
McPhedran Waitzer comes to Head & Hands with considerable experience in both the business and non-profit sectors. Upon graduating from McGill, he worked as a consultant with McKinsey & Company before moving to Berlin in 2009 to work as director for Ashoka Internationalʼs Globalizer social entrepreneurship program.
“Itʼs been a long and winding course to get here, which is exactly where I want to
be,” said McPhedran Waitzer.
He described his decision to study linguistics and politics at McGill as an attempt to differentiate himself from the world he knew growing up in Toronto. Upon his graduation, he came to realize that his heart remained in the social and cultural sectors, something he learned from his role models. His mother, Marilou McPhedran, is widely considered to be one of Canadaʼs most distinguished voices on gender equality.
“My mother made sure that I was introduced to the world of activism at a very
young age,” he said, exhibiting his continued devotion to that cause with the word “feminist” tattooed across his digits. “I attended my first womenʼs rights rally when I was four years old.”
However, gender equality is one cause among many that McPhedran Waitzer holds close to his heart. While his amiable demeanour is present at all times, it becomes obvious within moments of speaking with him that a passion for positive social change is an immense part of his life.
“What excites me most are the points of intersection between different social struggles,” he said in his quick, yet expressive style of elocution. “Head & Hands is amazing because we serve such a wide range of communities in a holistic and welcoming way.”
As director, McPhedran Waitzer plans to improve the vital services that Head & Hands provides, while continuing to stimulate the organizationʼs growth in a social and financial context.

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