I wanted to establish a context for this section regarding the voices of a range of clients (both coaching and organizational transformation).
I believe that I have developed a range of specific knowledge, experience, and skills in a variety of areas, but most specifically large non-profit service-oriented organizations, numerous and diverse faith communities and organizations, and their leadership, and in many cultural communities and their organizations. (both coaching of leadership, including board members and senior staff, and organizational transformational planning).
In another section of this website, you will see the “trialogue” model of holistic planning. This, I believe, is an important way to reframe planning for most organizations, and how organizational governance and strategic directions are established and applied by organizational leadership. This is my way of framing and collaborating with clients to achieve their end results and meaningful outcomes.
I have been asked numerous times to provide more information about my practice. I believe that the voices of numerous and diverse clients over the years are more useful to understand what the results have been for my coaching and organizational leadership clients from diverse communities and fields of endeavour.
The following are the testimonials, which have been provided by many clients who wish to tell their story in their own words about their coaching or consulting relationship with me.
Testimonials – What are people saying about their experience with my practice in 5 areas of coaching, consulting and animating individual and organizational transformation.
1. Transformative Community-Organization Engagement and Thinking Strategically (leadership support):
2. Faith Organizations
3. Individual and Relationship Coaching
4. Team Coaching
5. Political Coaching
6. Leadership Development
7. Community Visioning (see training and community speaking testimonials)
1. Transformative Community, Organization Engagement and Thinking Strategically:
Martin Itzkow provided me with tools to gain clarity on complex challenges faced within my leadership role. He carefully and skillfully led me through a process to help re-build focus and reflect on what is most important within my role as a leader. It was an emotional exercise that required vulnerability. Despite this, each time I met with Martin I felt stronger as a result of the important dialogue he facilitated. Our goal as leaders is to transform our communities and to build a positive future. Martin helped me re-gain momentum to stay focused on this vision for the organization I lead. I am confident I will reach out for his leadership expertise again as I continue to strive towards the change we need to see in our world. (R.R. September 2018)
Manitoba Construction Sector Council, “Thinking Differently, Long-term” (Dec. 2014)
Martin Itzkow has facilitated 2 professional development sessions with the Manitoba Construction Sector Council. The first brought the new team closer together as they looked to the vision of the organization in the future. Staff came to see the importance of a strategic plan and shared goals. The result was a better understanding of one another, recognition, value of individual’s strengths and differences.
The second session allowed each team member to look at their contribution to the work plan of the organization. Team members became accountable and make a contract to one another. This lead to a performance review process and a clear understanding of project activities and individual responsibilities for the coming year.
Martin has a way of stretching the imagination of what could be when we are willing to think outside of our current state. By stretching our beliefs, Martin allows individuals to come outside of their comfort zone. This can be scary for some but Martin makes participants feel comfortable in this new perspective and validates their apprehension as they journey past the predictable and familiar ways. (Carol Paul, CEO)
General Child and Family Services Authority – New Canadian Awareness and Education Initiative (Manitoba. Canada)
Martin Itzkow has been an associate with the General Child and Family Services Authority (General Authority) for over five years. Martin has been a key leader of our New Canadians Education and Awareness Initiative. This is a unique project based on community capacity building principles that has gained widespread attention. Initially Martin designed the overall strategy and, on behalf of the General Authority, has helped to establish a collaborative and trusting relationship between our service system and many Newcomer communities. Martin’s innovative thinking and advice has been a tremendous support to me as Chief Executive Officer, staff of the General Authority, child and family services agencies and my Board of Directors. Martin’s ongoing participation has been extremely valuable to what has proven to be a truly transformative engagement model.
This initiative has proven to be highly successful. With Martin’s participation, ideas and following his model of engagement, the General Authority has established trusting relationships with community leaders, community members, law enforcement and settlement service providers as we share the common goal of preserving and strengthening families. The importance of these partnerships cannot be underestimated as we work together to achieve the best outcomes for children youth and families. Martin Itzkow deserves much of the credit for this success.
Jay Rodgers, C.E.O. General Child and Family Services Authority (2013)
Success Skills Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Our Board Chair, Roy Valence, has put together for you the combined input from Board and staff a testimonial of your Strategic Thinking facilitation with us recently. It is as follow:
“Martin expertly facilitated our path through the obstacles presented by a rapidly-changing world, to help us identify the opportunities that are now developing for our organization. All participants felt engaged in the innovative process, which took into account our passion and core values, and were excited with the resulting visualization of our future.”
2. Faith Organizations
In early 2015 our faith based organization was in the process of determining what must be done to assure we continued to relate and be relevant to our congregants and our community and to assure our future viability.
At the time we faced many of the issues that faith based organizations similar to our own were encountering; a decrease in membership, an aging congregation, lack of interest, what we offered was of less and less relevance and we had become an organization which had no clear plan for assuring its future.
When we engaged Martin his first task was to help guide us in an exercise to help determine how our congregants, key stake holders and non members in our community saw us, what they expected from us and what we could do to make our Congregation more relevant to them. That done his roll expanded and evolved into one where he coached some of our key leaders and employees to help them understand and better deal with the challenges they faced. He introduced tools that would better able our organization to plan for the future and do what was necessary to achieve the mission and vision of the organization.
We learned that it is not just to doing for the sake of doing, that there were no “quick fixes”. What we plan and do must be thought out to assure its done with a purpose in mind that is consistent with our vision/mission/strategic plan, experiment and most important that measured the results to assure what we undertook was meeting our objectives
Not and easy task nor one that will be accomplished “over night “and we are still in the process of finding the best way to meet those objectives.
During this time our board developed and adopted a new vision and mission statement, a tag line that clearly states who we are and what we stand for and most important a strategic plan which our leadership believes sets the “road map” for achieving our stated mission and vision.
The real work has begun, and, we have a long and what our Board sees as an exciting path ahead. Martin has to be credited with being the catalyst for our finding the energy and ideas to get to the point where we are today, the rest is up to us.
For us Martin was the right choice. His knowledge, resourcefulness, insights, energy and doggedness all contributed to getting us to that point where if we do the work, put in the time and our key personnel work as a team with a common goals and visions we will achieve our goal of become more relevant to our congregants and the community we serve; our future will be more secure. (MS September 2016)
3. Individual and/or Change/Transition Coaching:
Testimonial #1 (2017)
n my fifties, I was facing imminent career and life changes. It was readily apparent that I couldn’t navigate this journey alone. Despite a life full of rich and rewarding personal and professional experiences, my appreciation of purpose and self-worth had steadily diminished over the years. I reached out to Martin someone who had impressed me as insightful, compassionate, humble, and genuine. Most of all he impresed me as someone who really cares.
Martin as a life and professional coach provided me with tools and processes enabling me to rediscover, realign, articulate and believe in my value, purpose and future. In a non-judgemental way, Martin made sure to keep me focussed and accountable to myself. He also impressed upon me the need to live joyfully.
The experience, although emotionally challenging, was transformational. I needed help rediscovering and unlocking my innner strength, passion and drive. Martin provided the keys, encouragement and support to re-awaken my inner spirit.
Thank you Martin! (Tim F.)
My sessions with Martin were incredibly insightful. Martin helped me create mental pathways through which I identified how to take steps forward toward the vision I have of, and for, myself. Martin is able to swiftly walk the thin line between distance and immediacy, creating an encouraging atmosphere that welcomes openness and honesty with one’s self. I truly look forward to our next session. (L)
Words cannot express the gratitude for what we have learned from the coaching Martin Itzkow has provided us. Meeting with Martin really helped us reaffirm our goals and vision as a couple. He made us think beyond what we thought we were capable of. It was extremely emotional and powerful the way we felt after our sessions with Martin. The things we learned through the exercises we did with him were and are so valuable, it helped us open our eyes to something that had been missing. We practice one of his exercises everyday and it helps us keep on track for what we are striving for. We had been given an extremely difficult decision to make and through Martins coaching, he had us envision where we both wanted to be. It was as though we were travelling in time, physically in the future through this one exercise and then back into the present. He is a master at what he does and I would never hesitate to call on him again for fine turning our relationship. If everyone could have a session with Martin, I guarantee their life would be enlightened and their relationships would be stronger. (M&E)
“I am grateful for my opportunity to work with Martin. He helped me, with a variety of tools and strategies think differently and purposefully about what I wanted to do and what I could do in my professionally life. These thought processes turned into action plans that allowed me to tackle team and organization processes in ways that I was comfortable and confident with. I left every single session with an action plan that I felt inspired to implement. Thanks Martin!” (C)
I was in a rut and struggling with how to move forward in my professional life. The career counseling services available seemed inadequate to my needs but I really couldn’t see making any progress on my own. I remembered reading an article in the Free Press about life coaching and after a few visits to various websites came across Martin Itzkow and Defying Gravity Coaching.
Martin and I met regularly over the course of 4 months. The work was surprising and demanding and exactly what I needed. It provided me with clarity about what I stand for and what really matters to me in my personal and professional life. Each week Martin and I would go on a crazy ride, zooming in to examine the devil in some detail one moment, then zooming out the next to take in the view at 30 thousand feet and catch some greater perspective.
The tools that Martin provided helped me to build a road map to the next phase of my life. One of the exploratory exercises he gave me was to write my life as if it were a great story. This really helped to cement the connection between the words we use and how we feel about ourselves. I became more aware of the contents of my own inner monologue—much of it not necessarily supportive—so why not write a great story instead? From there we moved to branding exercises that asked me to identify and leverage my points of difference, my mission, and my greater purpose in life. My work with Martin ended with a vision walk exercise that brought all these elements together in a truly profound way.
Working with Martin was a great decision for me. He helped me to clarify my goals and he did it with intelligence, warmth, humour, and flexibility. He has a seemingly endless toolkit and was always responsive to the needs of my process. And his follow through is great–we still meet for coffee. (M)
When I first met with Martin, I felt very chaotic and confused. I had no idea how or where to begin. I just knew I had a lot I wanted to accomplish and I had this overwhelming feeling of being stuck. While I had no idea where we were headed, I learned to trust the process Martin guided me through and we ended up in the most phenomenal and unexpected, yet very appropriate, places on which I needed to focus. I took away tools that fit for my worldview and that I can, and have, already used in other areas of my life. Other activities we did helped me cross thresholds in self-perceptions that I have struggled with for years. I flew across them and have not looked back!
One of the most important things I learned was that I have everything I need inside me already. I learned how to clarify my goals, desires, and needs, using my senses – what does “it” feel like, look like, sound like, smell like, etc. My thinking and perceiving of myself has shifted, and continues shifting, to put myself into my life, to face my feelings, and to embrace who I am in a way I had only dreamt before. Everything looks different now. I look different now. It is like I have woken up to whom I really am and I am able to acknowledge and own that for myself. I am a Story-keeper and it was because of Martin that I was able to claim that for the first time.
And while I am still learning and discerning what being a story-keeper means, I know it about myself and I no longer question it or wish for it. I am it. As well, I am now thinking about, and planning the steps to bring that dream more and more into reality. This new sense of self informs the way I am in the world in a way I had not expected. I find myself focusing on creating space for people, places, things, and environments I need for success on every level of my life. And I no longer feel the self-doubt that used to press down and anchor me, holding me back.
I am making space and creating healthy boundaries for my physical self, my relationships, and my work. Do I still get overwhelmed? Absolutely. But now I have a path, a vision, and tools to deal with it – choices. The feeling of being overwhelmed no longer dictates or controls my fate – at least not with the power it used to. My sense of myself and my future and my path is clear and specific. I own my abilities, capabilities, talents, gifts, insights, and dreams in a way I never have before. I have claimed me back and so I continue what we have started. I walk my vision walk, knowing that I am what I created during this journey with Martin. (L)
Working with Martin was a great decision for me. He helped me to clarify my goals and he did it with intelligence. warmth, humour, and flexibility. He has a seemingly endless toolkit and was always responsive to the needs of my process. My only regret is I wish I’d called him sooner. (M)
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your coaching over the course I took of “Changemakers”. Through your leadership I could come out with an impossible future, which reflects my desire and aspiration in the future “YOUTH AND DEVELOPMENT”. Thank you for the 360 outcomes. I did not know about my blind spots. They have sharpened my thinking behind the thinking. Thank you for deep listening during the coaching. (A)
Martin’s organizational Life coaching had incredible results for me. In just one session, he managed to help me turn the chaos and turmoil in my head into a clear picture on paper of what I really wanted to do on my career path. Martin’s professional, insightful, no-nonsense approach to working with individuals, groups and communities fosters the best of them all. Because of his life coaching, I was able to find peace of mind and make some positive and transformative changes in a very short period of time.” (J)
Transitioning into a new job can be overwhelming and cause a usually very confident person to feel anxious and somewhat tenuous. As I began the next chapter in my career journey I felt a myriad of emotions as I stepped away from my past role and into my new role. In many ways I felt like I was leaving my “family” for a new “family”. I felt empathy for my former staff members who were dealing with change and this added to the stress of my own transition. I began to second guess my decision to make a change.
Working with Organizational Life Coach, Martin Itzkow helped me to focus on my motives for desiring this change and the various approaches to help me through the transition life-cycle. By guiding and coaching me through various stages, Martin encouraged me to concentrate on my personal and professional values and strengths. We never discussed my weaknesses as the focus of this process is building on one’s strengths.
Through the coaching process I learned to let go of my past role and organization. I focused on my current and future goals, values and vision within my new role and organization. I began to write my new story. As Martin and I met for our sessions, I began to learn new things about myself by exploring and developing my transition plan and strategies for my transition closure.
Working with Martin through my transition process provided a safe environment for me to put into words the feelings of grief, trepidation and even aloneness that I was feeling as I moved from one chapter to the next, in my career journey. I was able to practice new learnings and integrate new approaches into my transition plan. I learned to define the changes in my role and responsibilities and collaboratively discuss these in confidence.
My transition period was definitely much more concise by having a Coach to guide me through the process. I was better able to focus on my goals and strategies for transitioning by having someone encouraging, empowering and leading me through the process. My coaching experience was enlightening, energizing and fun! I am very excited about this new chapter and am thankful that I had Martin to help me to embrace it with an open mind, heart and attitude. (B)
Martin has a remarkable gift for getting to the root cause of sensitive issues. He makes his clients feel respected and safe throughout the process. His facilitation techniques are engaging and inspiring. Participants walk away with a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment at the end of his coaching session. (C)
I have known Martin for the past four years through community events and projects. I also admired his wealth of experience, and knowledge and his networking and mentoring skills. Martin became my coach seven months ago when I was under a lot of stress; as a result, I lost the interest, drive and passion to do my work, complete my school assignments and achieve my goals and dreams. I was stuck and did not know how to get out of it. Fortunately, I knew Martin and I told him about my situation and he exactly knew what I was going through. He agreed to be my coach and for next seven months we met once every two weeks at a coffee shop and talked about my life and my future goals. Martin asked me many tough questions and challenged my thinking and behaviours and helped me get back my passion and dreams. Because of this process, my passion is rekindled and I am not stuck anymore. Martin helped make create my personal vision, mission, and goals; I know now, what I am going to do in the next five years or in the next twenty-five years. Thanks to the coaching sessions, I know now what my strengths are and what I need to work on in order to achieve my goals. Through this process, I have learned to say “No” to things that I have no time for or are not related to my future goals or my passions. Thanks to Martin, I am not lost anymore in the wilderness and I have clear roadmap to follow and I have the energy, motivation and passion to complete my life journey. (O)
I have known Martin for nearly two years and have observed over this time his unwavering ability to connect and build positive relationships while he has been working on various projects with the General Child and Family Services Authority. Over the last 6 months Martin has also been my Organizational Life Coach. Martin has a remarkable ability to ask the necessary insightful questions in order to go beyond the “surface” and to get to the bottom of issues. He very quickly helped me move from feeling overwhelmed at the myriad of challenges facing me, to helping me develop a comprehensive strategy to achieve the goals that I set out for myself. Martin’s wide-ranging strategies have helped me in all areas of life, including my family, work, health, and relationships. My coaching experience has allowed me to focus on building on my strengths and has been extremely rewarding and fun! (K)
I believe my experience with Defying Gravity program (life coach Martin Itzkow) has been transformational. The impact to me personally is I am considering a career change to becoming a life coach in the future. Martin empowered me, whose personal life is adventurous and fun, to transfer that part of myself to the world of work. He coached me with techniques to empower myself, while working in hostile/toxic work environments. I am on a journey, of not just being a survivor anymore, towards thriving in any work environment. My employer benefited from this process, as my productivity and positive energy have increased. Interestingly enough, I have noticed that my positive energy appears to “infect” team members. (L)
Originally, I met Martin in a professional capacity when he led a two day strategic planning session for our company. Even though I have previous experience as a career coach, and as an unofficial life coach for friends and family, I knew deep down that I needed someone, a coach, with whom to share my concerns. During a casual coffee meeting, I discovered that Martin could be that person for me. The next three meetings with Martin forced me to reflect on how I perceived certain situations in my life. At the end of each meeting, Martin assigned me self-work activities. The ones that created the most ah-ha moments for me were the following, 1) strategies to get people to understand what I need from them, 2) a continuum exercise of how I view life situations in relation to others in the same situation, and 3) creating some ‘rules of engagement’ when dealing with toxic people. Martin’s unique way of posing questions, coupled with the previously mentioned activities, helped me to transform my preconceived notions of how my life ‘should be’ to how I want my life ‘to be.’ Thanks again, Martin! (L)
I approached Martin as I was experiencing indecision and anxiety about retirement from an administrative position. After 29 years at one institution my job had become a large part of my identity and lifestyle. We met for one-hour sessions over a 5-month period. The exercises were varied and challenging; all of them gave me a totally new perspective on transition and Martin was consistent in his follow-up and encouragement.
The experience gave me new insight into my values, vision, and self-identity. Martin’s approach was very focused and positive, and he helped me to recognize and embrace the change. He has given me many tools that I will continue to use as I move forward in the next stage of my life. LPM (Retiree)
4. Team Coaching:
Martin’s coaching session was almost all exercises that got me to take a look at myself, my life. I found it to be fun and also surprised me at how many things I analyzed that I had completely forgotten.
What I found most interesting were the seemingly simplistic questions, throughout the workshop, which, when answered honestly, brought greater clarification and self-awareness to my consciousness. Simple questions. I could actually feel my stress level decreasing and my focus increasing. (N) (2014)
5. Political (public service) Coaching:
I was blessed at a critical moment in my life’s journey to benefit from the expertise of Martin Itzkow, a truly professional coach with a unique capacity for assisting those involved in political and public endeavours. Martin understands completely that leadership development is all about building confidence not moulding an identity. He uses a multitude of techniques that are not intimidating or complicated to help his clients believe in their gifts and to identify their own motivations and goals as well as their strengths and weaknesses. He gave me the freedom to believe in myself and the tools to better project my views and aspirations. His teaching methods and coaching style are particularly suited for those in the midst of busy, chaotic and stressful lives. He does not overwhelm the client with homework and exercise. His impact is achieved through a number of strategies including a limited number of provocative and probing questions, techniques to help achieve a sense of calm and peace , exercises around choice of words, structure of speeches and use of body language, role-playing sense of space and self, and tactics to anchor oneself in the moment with self-confidence and poise. In effect, Martin teaches about genuine authenticity, a style of coaching much needed in the political context. If only I had had Martin as my coach at the beginning, not the end, of my career. But it is not too late for up and coming politicians and new and emerging leaders in our community today. (JWL)
I have known Martin for well over a decade, his character is
impeccable. I have been involved in diverse sets of public life and
often enjoyed my participation. At a chance meeting, Martin asked me
if I would be interested in a (political) coaching class. Intrigued, I took Martin
up on the offer and asked a few friends to join me in the exercise.
Martin led the group through a 5 week, 1 day a week (political) coaching session.
We explored our inner motives, challenges and biases. Each one of us
was vastly different in what made them ”tick.”
Throughout the course, Martin guided us through a set of exercises and
group discussion. Martin patiently guided discussion and gently
steered us through road blocks. On more than one occasion there were
personal ”aha!” moments.
Martin has a talent when speaking to people, he has an ability to make
people look into themselves, really look into themselves and examine
why things are. Some people may go through their whole lives without
really examining the ”why,” those who do may find extra benefit in
their day-to-day lives. (S)
6. Leadership Development
LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT (Leading Change)
“I approached Martin to help me with professional development, but he pushed me to “dig deeper” on my journey of exploration and purpose. My view of leadership as a “one person show” was quickly challenged and I left our sessions with a more meaningful and inclusive model to aspire to. Martin’s knowledge is vast, his passion is contagious and his coaching is inspirational. He pushed me to unearth my core values and rely on them to focus, motivate and inform my behavior. Having learned so much about myself through Martin’s guidance, I feel better prepared to go out into the world and take an active role in making my community a better place to live.
January 19, 2017 – Andrew Regier
I first met Martin in a community leadership program. I had thought I had seen it all and heard it all up to that point. Martin blew me away with his take on leadership and his methods for unlocking our own inner resources. After my first encounter with Martin I began to take a hard look at my professional position as a consultant. I questioned myself as a leader and I started to visualize what my employees would look like if I applied some of methods I had discovered while working alongside Martin. I then tested some of these techniques like NLP, self-empowerment questions, logic models and leadership definitions. What I discovered was that I was working with managers and not leaders. After a few more sessions with Martin I began to roll out my own personalized leadership program in my workplace. So far the results have surpassed my expectations with an even brighter future attached to those expectations. Thanks Martin. (2014)
“Few of us have the opportunity or the good fortune to know a true visionary. Martin Itzkow is just that: a visionary. He’s an individual who is constantly reading, seeking opportunities, asking questions, thinking. He is someone who lives for ideas and someone who creates them. For most people, when we find a process that works for us, we stick to it. Not Martin. He’s the man, the visionary who knows how vast the world outside our comfort zone is. He believes that there is always a process more exciting, more innovative, more engaging, more meaningful than the one we are comfortably familiar with. Most importantly, there is an integrity to Martin that will lead you to trust him. We trust the process, because we trust Martin.
In 2008, Martin and I co-created the Canadian Muslim Leadership Institute. CMLI is an innovative, cutting edge and unique leadership program, 3 qualities which Martin embodies. Through the CMLI leadership program, Martin engages Canadian Muslims from across cultures, ages, professional backgrounds and experiences to get them to a place where- in the words of Martin- “Leadership is about leading, not being ‘a leader’, it’s about the verb not the noun.” 2014 sees the 4th cohort of CMLI participants and every year, I witness the eyes of the participants get bigger and bigger as they encounter Martin for the first time. The way they are engaged by Martin during his CMLI leadership coaching sessions is like nothing they have ever experienced before. His ideas are new and fresh. That sound you’re hearing? That’s the sound of their brain stretching, when they’re challenged to answer Martin’s questions and his never ending request to “dig deeper”.
I am unlikely to ever meet someone quite as tireless, fearless, open-minded, demanding and compassionate as Martin. And if you’re willing to take that leap, and be ready to go to a place you had never quite imagined had existed, you need to speak to this man.
Martin Itzkow: A true visionary. (Nadia Kidwai)” (2014)
“Martin is the most expert person I have ever met on what I’ve come to call ‘the science of leadership’. Before meeting Martin I, like many, thought that leaders were born, not made. Martin’s comprehensive, penetrating and compassionate strategies for helping us all to identify and develop our leadership abilities is fascinating in theory and a delight in practice. I’ve seen it work both in others and it has helped me to grow leadership skills I never knew that I had.” Terry MacLeod, CBC Radio Host, Winnipeg Canada
“I have worked with Martin Itzkow for more than 4 years in establishing the Canadian Muslim Leadership Institute. I have seen up close his brilliance in developing creative ideas and bringing them to practical applications. He was the lead programmer on this initiative and volunteered countless hours to it. His passion for developing proactive, compassionate and just community leadership is inspiring. His insights into community leadership models are deep, fluid, and constantly evolving. I have yet to meet someone who can connect dots as efficiently and quickly between seemingly varying concepts to draw a common conclusion without losing the spirit of either concept.
Martin joined our team to develop the Institute willing and open to learn and understand Islamic core values and successfully synchronizing them with core Canadian values of justice and social cohesion. He developed programming model for the Institute that is dynamic, unique and process based. His model encourages drawing on strengths of individuals and compels them to raise their self-awareness. He has developed leadership model that is true to the spirit of community building and encourages collaborative leadership that emphasizes the collective benefit without compromising individuality. Each academic year of the Institute Martin adds his new learning’s to the core programming and creates opportunities for relevant conversations around the cross cultural and intercultural bridge building. Martin is highly motivated and a genius at producing cutting edge programs that challenge and inspire our students and all those who work with him. His mentoring of Muslim youth who have shown interest in developing programs is a blessing that we cherish. Martin is a friend, teacher and mentor of the Muslim Community in Canada.” Shahina Siddiqui, CEO Islamic Social Services Association (Canada)
“I have known Martin Itzkow for little more than one year and over that time developed a deep appreciation of his knowledge in the social welfare area. Most of my work with Martin has been connected to his leadership of the Canadian Muslim Leadership Institute and Face2Face in Winnipeg. He is particularly skilled at grasping issues that face people in their everyday lives. With his vast knowledge of social conditions in the community, he has the right toolkit to research the issues that matter most to the people of the community, especially those in poverty whose lives have been marginalized through lack of education and language skills and circumscribed by cultural barriers. Martin has the amazing ability to design the appropriate inquiry and ask the necessary penetrating questions to get to bottom of issues. Moreover, he does his work with both compassion and passion for people. He really does care and that shows in every phase of his work. Martin is a people person, a quality that enables him to reach into the minds and hearts of citizens in search of a hand-up or a way out of isolation and to a happier and more productive life in the wider community.
Martin is a man to turn to, to measure the human condition and to search for ways to improve upon it. This is not work for the faint-of-heart. But Martin doesn’t back away from a challenge; he welcomes it. He believes in himself; he believes in people. That’s what drives him. That’s what makes him excel. While he has built knowledge and professional skills on a foundation of passion and caring, Martin is not without sharp opinions. He sees flaws in the structure of society and problems that are not addressed. He wants a better community, a better world. He wants people on the bottom of the ladder-of-life to live better, happier lives. But it must be said, though, Martin always is the thorough professional. He doesn’t mix personal opinion with his professional work. He’s the model professional. He the kind of man you would enjoy working with. Oh yes! He can be fun, too.” John Harvard PC, OM, Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba (2004-2009)
“Martin Itzkow has led numerous projects over the last three years at the General Child and Family Services Authority. Most notably, he helped organize our precedent-setting Appreciative Inquiry Summit planning sessions, which were attended by over 200 staff, managers, foster parents and youth from the child welfare system. Through this innovative process, we successfully collaborated with our agencies all across the province to collectively set a value-based future direction for our child welfare system. Martin’s greatest strength is his ability to connect and build positive relationships. There is no better example than the work he has done to help the General Child and Family Services Authority began to engage in a new way with many diverse cultural communities. Martin continually has proven to be a true innovator and champion for a strengths-based focus in all the work we do with children and families.” Jay Rodgers, Chief Executive Officer, General Child and Family Services Authority
“Martin has an exceptional ability to solve problems. He is constantly searching for new sources of information and is able to translate international best practices into pragmatic local action. Martin takes concepts, finds out supporting information and translates that into action. He is able to deal with complex data sets and distill the essence of the information. He has an insatiable curiosity and is constantly adding to his knowledge base. He is an invaluable ‘connector’ both to people and to information. He makes associations quickly and can put together diverse talents (people management) and innovation solutions. Martin is an innovator – constantly exploring new ideas and making contacts to move an idea or issue forward.” Doris Mae Oulton, (previous Assistant Deputy Minister, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Citizenship, 1996)
All Rights Reserved © 2015 Martin Itzkow