- Poste occupé:
- Executive Director
- Coast Funds
- Type de formation (1):
- Programme de formation (1):
- Commerce degree
- Types de professionnel-le:
- Professionnels-les dans les OBNL et OBE
- Secteurs d'organisation:
- Communautaire, Environnement et développement durable
- Types d'organisation:
- Oeuvres de bienfaisances (OB)
Can you present yourself?
I am the executive director of Coast Funds, which is a $120 million initiative of First Nations, governments and philanthropists established as part of land use and reconciliation agreements in the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii. I have been working in the philanthropic sector for over ten years with a focus on sustainable development in First Nations and rural communities in British Columbia, Canada. Previously I have worked in senior positions in government and before that, the private sector with an environmental technology company. I hold a Chartered Director designation with McMaster University and a Bachelor of Commerce with University of Victoria.
What brought you to work in the philanthropic sector?
While I happen to work in the philanthropic sector, I really see myself as working to contribute towards happier, healthier, more sustainable and vibrant First Nations and Canadian communities. I have found through my time working in the public sector that I can make a more immediate and tangible contribution to this through my work with regional trusts and foundations that are highly connected with local communities, but which have been funded with public and philanthropic contributions.
Can you define and explain what your activity and/or position consists of within your organization?
I am responsible for Coast Funds’ relationships with First Nations elected and hereditary leaders, government, and philanthropy, leading a team of dedicated professionals who are all contributing to our support of First Nations’ visions for their people, lands, and waters, in the Great Bear Rainforest. I work closely with our board of directors on all aspects of governance of our registered charity and non-profit society, as well as having oversight of our senior financial staff and investment managers who steward our diversified investment portfolio.
What is your professional education? Is it relevant in the context of your philanthropic involvement? Why?
My professional education is in business, beginning with my Commerce degree where I was focused on sustainable and social entrepreneurship (in a triple bottom line context), which led me to work in the private sector for an environmental technology company initially. My perspective was fairly unique amongst business school graduates in the late 1990s/early 2000s as my heart was not in the exploitative focus of capitalism, but on social and sustainability issues through a business lens. To continue my work in a leadership capacity in the philanthropic sector, I secured a Chartered Director designation which is focused on good governance practices of Canadian corporations. I chose this approach to further my knowledge of governance and to continue to build upon my education in business yet applying it in a not-for-profit context that contributes to First Nations and Canadian society.
Talk to us briefly about your professional background?
I have been privileged to have lived in and visited beautiful and remote areas of Canada over my lifetime and I care deeply about sustainability and environmental issues. After working for a number of years in the private sector focusing on reducing industrial pollution of our lakes, rivers, and oceans, I decided that I needed to focus my career in the public or not-for-profit sector to really contribute to the kind of world I hope we can all move towards. To make this shift, I started a Master’s program focusing on international development in circumpolar regions and was then soon after to join the Northern Development Initiative Trust, a $185 million community development trust, during its start-up period. In that time, I worked primarily to support communities seeking to diversify their economies in the wake of the mountain pine beetle epidemic, a result of climate change, that has devastated British Columbia’s forest sector. Over those years, I was involved with Coast Funds since its inception and was fortunate to join the organization a few short years after it started.
What are the challenges and issues related to your position in philanthropy?
It can be challenging to work in a small not-for-profit environment that is perpetually bootstrapped and requires endless creativity, passion and energy to achieve its mandate. I’m very fortunate for the amazing team we have at Coast Funds. It has been very challenging to find great people with interest combined with passion and the commitment level required to work for a small non-profit to make Coast Funds the success that it is. Also, it is always a challenge in a small organization to ensure that new and strategic initiatives are being adequately resourced without diverting attention and capacity from day-to-day operations.
How would you define philanthropy today? How does this definition influence your working methods?
Where I work within the vast philanthropic sector today, is at a nexus of a number of topics that are of increasing awareness within the public, including Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, impact investing, responding to and mitigating the effects of climate change, and long-term stewardship of our natural environment. This is an exciting yet challenging time to be working on each of these topics yet so much positive change is possible if philanthropic resources can be effectively aligned with public support that harnesses the potential of passionate local people who know what to do. All of this influences our work at Coast Funds to ensure communities are driving the change they want to see and that they have the resources they need to be successful without influence (or interference) directly from philanthropic funding sources on how to move forward with their unique visions.
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to pursue a career in your profession/activity?
Working in our unique niche in the not-for-profit sector requires a high level of people skills combined with business acumen. Working as a facilitator to positively affect outcomes is key to the mindset anyone should have to be successful in this space—we are not here to drive a specific agenda, we work to build capacity and to remove obstacles that we learn of from local people. We succeed only through the accomplishments of the people we work in service to, who are the real champions of the not-for-profit sector.