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Executive Director Announcement & Judo Canada Partnership

The Judo Ontario Board of Directors is pleased to announce the promotion of James Cunningham to the position of Executive Director, effective April 1st. We are looking forward to this new chapter for Judo Ontario and continuing the work to build a stronger Judo Ontario. There are numerous projects in the works over the coming months, including the development of a new strategic plan, and having a strong team supporting the Board of Directors will be essential in providing outstanding programs and services to all members of Judo Ontario.

James joined Judo Ontario in December 2022 on a part time basis to work with the existing staff and coaches. The increased staff capacity has been a significant benefit to Judo Ontario, and James' extensive experience in the provincial and national sports system has resulted in increased funding and partnership opportunities in the future.

The addition of an Executive Director allows our Sport Director, Steven Sheffield, the ability to narrow his focus to the core technical aspects of the organization, specifically events and sanctioning, referees, grading, and our high-performance programs. Steven's decades of experience at all levels of judo is invaluable and we are grateful for the countless hours he has committed to running the day to day operations of Judo Ontario over the past 10 years. In his role, James will focus on the more operational aspects of Judo Ontario, including stakeholder relations and funding applications, strategic and operational planning, supporting the Board of Directors and committees, and recruiting and managing administrative staff.

We are also enhancing our collaboration with Judo Canada. James will take on the role of NCCP Manager for Judo Canada, transitioning into the role as Andrzej Sadej moves on after 30 years with Judo Canada.  Leveraging this partnership with Judo Canada allows Judo Ontario to bring on an additional part-time Member Services Coordinator position. We will be finalizing the details of this role and advertising for the position in the coming weeks.

Please join us in welcoming James in this new role!

See press release from Judo Canada below.

Brian Kalsen - President, Judo Ontario

Judo Ontario and Judo Canada Join Forces!

 Toronto, March 27, 2024 (Judo Canada) – Judo Ontario and Judo Canada are proud to announce the strengthening of their collaboration with the arrival of James Cunningham at Judo Canada as part-time manager of the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP). Cunningham, who will also be promoted to the position of executive director of Judo Ontario, will lend his expertise and dedication to the development of judo on a national level.

The new incumbent, who will officially assume his duties on April 1, expressed his enthusiasm for his upcoming professional challenges. “I’m thrilled about this new position, which was created through a collaboration between Judo Ontario and Judo Canada,” he said.

“I’ll continue to work with the board of directors and the staff to enhance our member services and to develop the sport in Ontario. I’m also honoured to take on the role of part-time manager of the NCCP and to draw on the knowledge and experience I’ve gained in various national sports organizations.”

“We’re extremely pleased to welcome James Cunningham to the Judo Canada team,” added Nicolas Gill, Chief Executive Officer and High Performance Director of Judo Canada. “Thanks to his experience at Judo Ontario, he’s well-equipped to ensure a smooth transition, especially with the imminent departure of our esteemed collaborator Andrzej Sadej. James’ appointment to the position reflects our shared vision of strengthening judo across the country.”

Judo Ontario is also delighted with the new collaboration. Brian Kalsen, president of the provincial organization, highlighted the importance of the new partnership in the development of coaches across the country. “We’re proud to have one of our employees occupy a key role in coaching education in Canada,” he said. “Over the past year, James has played a pivotal role in furthering the development of Judo Ontario, and we’re confident that he will continue to excel in his new responsibilities.”

As he accepted the new position, Cunningham also emphasized the importance of coaches in the sport. “Coaches play a crucial role in every sport,” he insisted. “I look forward to working with the many dedicated coaches to deliver a quality educational program that will ensure safe and effective programs for all.”

The collaboration between Judo Ontario and Judo Canada promises to further strengthen the judo community nationwide by focusing on coach development and continuous improvement of the sport for all participants.


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