A Tribute to Gerry Brissenden

Winter 2007 CSANews Issue 65  |  Posted date : May 22, 2008.Back to list

Hands down, Gerry Brissenden is one of the hardest-working directors that the Canadian Snowbird Association has ever had. It was no surprise that he was acclaimed as president in 2004, or that he would have taken the job as seriously as he did right from the start.

Gerry's talent, charisma, ambition and above all else, positive attitude, were instrumental in catapulting the CSA into the spotlight as a trusted authority representing the hearts and minds of Canadian travellers across the continent at a critical time in the association's history.

When Gerry took the helm of the CSA, the association was just over 10 years old and had established itself as a reliable news source for the media and an effective advocacy group for its membership. What it needed was a leader who had the vision, drive and energy to meet the immediate demands of an opportunity whenever one presented itself.

Never too shy to speak up, face the media or meet with a member of government, Gerry took advantage of every moment when there was a story that called for the opinion of a mature, experienced, self-reliant organization that took a balanced approach to fulfilling its mandate of defending the rights and privileges of Canadian travellers.

There were many days in the past four years on which Gerry would spend 10 to 12 hours participating in as many as 20 separate interviews on radio, television news and print. Acutely aware that once the moment and the interest had passed, it would be gone forever, Gerry was swift to recognize these opportunities and he seized them voraciously. The CSA is no longer considered  merely a reliable source for the news media, it is a trusted one. There are many issues in the media these days concerning Canadian and U.S. relations that require comment to make the news item a story, and now the media call upon the CSA frequently, due largely to the fact that Gerry always got back to them promptly, intelligently and enthusiastically.

Today, the Canadian Snowbird Association is recognized as an authority on issues that have an impact on travelling Canadians. The CSA is called upon for representation at events conducted by both Canadian and U.S. governments. Whether it was to make a presentation at the Florida property tax reform committee, the Friends of Canada Conference, a special announcement by the prime minister or a photo opportunity with the Florida governor, Gerry would always drop everything and rise to the challenge without hesitation.

Always considerate of the task at hand, Gerry was a master of employing diplomacy to assist those who asked for his presence without ever losing sight of his responsibility to push the mandate of the membership and keep it active in the discussion with his new allies. The CSA now has many friends in government, and they all know Gerry on a first-name basis. There is no doubt that they will be reiterating his name for years to come.

With Gerry's leadership, the CSA has become more relevant, more respected and has achieved wider recognition than ever before. Leading into the future, built on the successes of our past was Gerry's mantra as the association's president. He couldn't have said it better, nor could he have done a better job living up to it.

Thanks Gerry!

Pic 1: Gerry takes advantage of an opportunity to speak with Canada's prime minister, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper.

Pic 2: Gerry gets down to business with Canada's federal minister of health, the Honourable Tony Clement.

Pic 3: Gerry conducts a national interview with the CBC from his winter home in Palmetto, Florida.