Looking Back, Moving Forward…Remembering David Parton
Written by Tamalea Stone, Interim President NMEDA Canada
So, I find myself in a unique place where I must serve an interim role, acting as a bridge, if you will, between an outgoing and incoming President. Typically, I serve as the VP, according to the bylaws, “to support and serve as an Officer of the Board of Directors, perform other duties as may be assigned…but, in the absence of the President…the Vice President shall perform the duties of the President.”
As you have certainly heard, David Parton, Canada President, tragically passed away on December 8, 2021 in a car accident. His life was reflective of a family man, a savvy businessman, an advocate for the disadvantaged, a colleague who offered a helping hand and a friend with a quirky sense of humour. We had spent many conferences, trade shows, industry events and zoom meetings together and his absence going forward will surely be noted. He was passionate about the quality of service he provided to his customers and was very vocal about the need for equality and safety of those folks needing to use accessible private transportation as being recognized as more than just “cargo”. His efforts and leadership directions spoke to this with his presence on provincial and national associations and his advocacy efforts with government bodies and partner organizations.
According to Stephen Covey, American author, educator, and businessman, there are three constants in life…change, choice, and principles. We know that change is a constant where we need to adapt to the curve balls that get thrown our way, like working through a pandemic and the need to pivot when something unexpected happens. We make a choice every day to get up and get on with living, a choice to make decisions that direct our life and influence others. And we follow principles, living by a code, rules and regulations that govern how we live, work, and interact with others.
How do you measure the worth of man if not for his accomplishments and the legacy he leaves behind? Or again, as Stephen Covey says, what you do has far greater impact than what you say.
For those of us who knew David Parton, he was a man of many words, but he was also a man of action. Under his leadership, the Canadian Board was able to advance several pivotal initiatives pertaining to improving government relations, promoting awareness and representation at various stakeholder, government, and private sector partner associations and conferences, and identifying value targets in line with our strategic plan.
The focus was on increasing awareness of what NMEDA is and what it offers the industry, value to its members and the public, including consumers.
He demonstrated his passion and support of March of Dimes Canada and Aging in Place and advocacy for those with disabilities to have equity and safety in every part of their lives. To quote David in one of his messages, “NMEDA Canada [has] partnered with the March of Dimes Canada to elevate awareness of the ways people can regain lost freedom with the services of a NMEDA member store. We have worked with CARP, “Canadian Association of Retired Persons”, to share a message that life can be lived without limitations and to introduce NMEDA to a cohort of retiring or soon to be retiring people. A cohort with often more questions than answers, and a significant amount of disposable income.”
NMEDA Canada’s affiliations with “CCMTA granted us and our association an opportunity to address policy makers and their senior staff in a forum and format where we can present our QAP standards as a template to be used to take provincial standards higher.”
In addition to forging alliances with March of Dimes Canada and CARP, some of the other accomplishments of the Board under his tenure include the development and execution of a strategic plan with action steps to introduce NMEDA to federal and local government organizations responsible for automotive rulemaking and generating support for NMEDA/QAP standards by maintaining partner relations.
Ongoing efforts which include maintaining those established relationships with relevant organizations such as CIMVHR –Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research where our presence as an exhibitor at the 2019 Symposium offered an opportunity to seek value targets within the Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada, and paves a way forward for engagement. NMEDA Canada will also continue support as a Gold Sponsor and exhibitor at the CAOT – Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists National Conference to promote awareness of the association and its merit for clients of our therapy partners. And finally, we will continue the journey to contribute to the conversation where David, Serge Lavallee, and I were afforded a speaking opportunity at the General Meeting of CCMTA – Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators to Canada’s key stakeholders and thought leaders involved in the administration, regulation and control of motor vehicle transportation and highway safety.
Of course, the Board was busy with “technical” stuff with the 2019 Bylaw revision and added to Board Representation with the President’s appointment of a Special Advisor.
In an effort to “shine the light” on NMEDA, the Partner Relations Committee was struck in 2019 with appointed inaugural Chair – Dana Benoit, OT, CDRS, who passed onto Shah Baqar OT, CDRS consisting of a five member committee of dealers, manufacturer, CDRS with a goal to increase awareness of NMEDA, its mission, benefits to non-government partners with notable contributions to OTNow, CAOT member newsletter reaching 12, 000+ therapy partners and sponsorship of SCIO – Spinal Cord Injury Ontario –Live Webinar – Getting Started: The Driver Assessment & Rehabilitation Process On the Road Again, SCIO Virtual Vehicle Modification Show – Segment 1: August 18, 2021
Another area of growth we have seen is the efforts towards member outreach and communications such as the implementation of a monthly Canada Short Circuit that yours truly, and Katie, of course, pulls together to inform and link the membership. Recruitment of former and new members was a frequent conversation at board meetings. To quote David, “this industry needs NMEDA, as we increase awareness, my hope is that some who have fallen away, will see their way back to our association.”
The last project David worked on came to fruition with the launching of the new Canadian bilingual website representative of those members north of the 49th parallel.
The Board has accomplished much in the last four years and we look forward to moving the needle further to maximize our efforts in making NMEDA the sole destination for mobility in Canada.
I will be passing the leadership torch, so to speak, onto another formidable leader, Russ Newton, who will firmly take the reins and steer our team, in his words, “to refocus and reposition with funders, influencers and legislators. We are the experts and to that end we need to reengage membership across the country with a solid plan to make your NMEDA membership both valuable and profitable. I am excited with the current board composition. There is an abundance of knowledge and enthusiasm that should serve to make for strong leadership and excellent outcomes. “
So, I join the other Board members in looking back to review and respect what has been accomplished and am filled with anticipation and excitement in moving forward…I am especially relieved to return to my position of support as vice president!