Empowering Change


Empowering Change provides Motivational Interviewing training, leadership training, and case management training in Canada, United States, Australia, and New Zealand. Empowering Change was founded by Roxanne Sawatzky in Winnipeg, Canada in 2010. Roxanne began her career in human resources and moved into social services to become an addictions counsellor, where she learned about the Motivational Interviewing (MI) counselling model. She then moved into the field of employment counselling and later in her career was given the opportunity to project manage, provide MI training and supervision for  a 3-year, $1.3 million dollar research project studying the use of MI in employment services.

The research project was the first of its kind, and was funded by the Government of Canada and the Province of Manitoba.  Today we have completed three research projects using MI in the employment sector and we’re currently completing our fourth.  This is our second partnership with the Social Research Development Corporation in British Columbia; once again researching and focusing on using Motivational Interviewing with ambivalent clients.

Over the course of three years in her first research study, Roxanne trained project staff on Motivational Interviewing and designed processes, procedures and curriculum that were used in the project with individuals who were in various stages of work readiness.  The following were the outcomes of using MI in the employment sector:

  • 25% increase in participants remaining active in employment programs
  • 34% increase in participants finding first time employment
  • 48% increase in participants maintaining employment for six-months or longer

Due to the overwhelming success of the 3-year research project including almost 3,000 individuals, we can conclude that the model would work in most employment programs as well as other settings. The following is a recommendation by the external evaluator who monitored the research project for three years:

“The project has included a rigorous internal research component, which I have evaluated for the past three years. I have been incredibly impressed by the attention paid to determining whether or not the Stages of Change and Motivational Interviewing is effective. In my 30 years in evaluation, it is rare to see this concerted attention to stringent and appropriate data collection and analysis. My assessment as an external reviewer confirms the effectiveness of the approach. In fact, they have exceeded their target population (60% Indigenous) and shown conclusively the success of the approach. I would hope that any potential funder would appreciate both the rigorous processes and the impressive results.”

– Linda Lee, Partner, Proactive Information Services Inc.

The following is a list of the demographics from the first research study:

  • Chronically unemployed
  • Clients of First Nations, Métis, Inuit or non-status descent
  • Single parents (mostly women), clients with multi-barriers to employment
  • Persons with disabilities
  • Ex-offenders
  • Newcomers to Canada
  • Youth (18-29 years of age)

Empowering Change’s mandate is to enhance social service provider thinking and practice by increasing effective, short-term motivational service delivery methods through the use of Motivational Interviewing training.


The Empowering Change team members train and support service providers in using Motivational Interviewing as an effective model to achieve successful client outcomes.

An important focus for us as an organization is to take into account and support the entire system with which we are working. With change comes a ripple effect, those ripples can feel both positive and negative, exciting and exhausting!  At the beginning those ripples can create a bumpy ride for leaders, staff and those they serve.  Our focus is to support leaders and staff as they ride the waves of change as they best support the change initiatives within their organization.  We provide comprehensive training for all size organizations.  We can support you by developing a service framework, training in new and innovative technique and provide you with full support to reach implementation and sustainability.

Roxanne has completed her Masters degree in Leadership and Organizational Change, and her vision is to see service providers across Canada using 21st Century approaches with all demographics. She and her team bring a wealth of experience, creativity, compassion and humor to all those with which they work. Roxanne is a dynamic and passionate trainer, and is available for booking internationally.

Roxanne has completed her Masters in Leadership and Organizational Change, part of which includes a thesis on 21st Century Organizations.

What is 21 Century Organizations?

Many people often ask me what is a 21st Century Organization and how do you get there?  Here’s what I have learned.  First, organizations need to prepare today for our current and future demands.

How does that happen?

Essentially, organizations need to prepare their staff to deliver innovative, quality services. We can no longer remain static in our approaches; we need to be adaptable, learning organizations.

How do we prepare our organizations to prepare and thrive in the 21st century?

First, we need to understand the shift.

Our historic shift to a 21 century Knowledge Age, has forever tilted the balance of what is needed and valued in our work, our learning, and our life.

In the 21st century, organizational learning critical.  We need to create a space for our organizations to be a learning organization.  While it sounds simple in theory it really is a rather complex process and not easy to do alone.

What skills are required to be an effective 21st Century Organization?

What is certain is that two essential skill sets will remain at the top of the list for 21st century organizations:

The ability to quickly acquire and apply new knowledge, and the know-how to apply essential 21st century skills, problem solving, communication, teamwork, technology use and innovation to each and every project.

Here’s some thoughts to consider for Employment Service Providers

Employment service providers need to prepare future workers and citizens to deal with the challenges of our times. Reports from around the world confirm that this “21st century skills gap” is costing businesses a great deal of money. Some estimate that well over $200 billion a year is spent worldwide in finding and hiring scarce, highly skilled talent, and in bringing new employees up to required skill levels through costly training programs. Employment service providers cannot continue to use ineffective approaches to prepare their clients for 21st century demands.

In short, pressure is increasing on education and businesses around the world to teach and learn in new ways in order to be successful in the 21st century knowledge economy.

During the course of her ongoing studies and years working with diverse organizations, Roxanne has learned the true value of this concept, and is committed to bringing her findings not only within her own organization, but to every organization with which she and her team work.

Prepare your workplace today to be an effective 21st century organization.
Please contact us to request more information on our training sessions.