Marina Boulos

Poste occupé:
Directrice générale/ Executive Director
Chez Doris
Type de formation (1):
Formation universitaire (Baccalauréat)
Programme de formation (1):
Bachelor’s degree in Psychology
Types de professionnel-le:
Professionnels-les dans les OBNL et OBE
Secteurs d'organisation:
Soulagement de la pauvreté
Types d'organisation:
Oeuvres de bienfaisances (OB)

Can you present yourself?

I am the Executive Director of Chez Doris, a day shelter for women in difficulty located in Montreal. I’ve been working in the charitable sector for 30 years, 12 of which were in the United States. My speciality is managing community organizations or start-ups to national charities needing transformational change.

What brought you to work in the philanthropic sector?

I thought I wanted to be a psychologist because I like helping people. However, after an internship I realized I would be better suited to managing social service agencies.

Can you define and explain what your activity and/or position consists of within your organization?

My most important function is to ensure the financial viability of the organization. Other than fundraising and overseeing its finances, I am also responsible for media relations, marketing, program development, HR management and accounting. Since my arrival in 2015, we have more than tripled our annual revenue for both operating expenses and capital expenditures. By 2020, in addition to our day shelter for women in difficulty we will launch an emergency shelter for homeless women with at least 20 beds as well as a permanent residence with 26 studio apartments for vulnerable women. This requires a lot of work with the Board of Directors and committees of the Board who provide their strategic guidance and advice.

What is your professional education? Is it relevant in the context of your philanthropic involvement? Why?

I have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Graduate Diploma in Applied Management from McGill University. The Graduate Diploma defined my way of thinking as all the courses were taught with the case study management method. Hence, we were given situational problems and told to solve them. I therefore always look to better respond to unmet needs or problems. In the case of Chez Doris, I look at what more we can do to alleviate homelessness and improve vulnerable women’s quality of life.

Talk to us briefly about your professional background?

I started volunteering at the age for 17 for a drug rehabilitation center, which gave me a head start in working for social service agencies following graduation. By 24, I was Executive Director of Tel-Aide, Greater Montreal’s 24-hour crisis line. At 28, I became Executive Director of Dans la Rue, which helps homeless and runaway youth. I subsequently moved to New York City to be with my husband, and I held executive positions with United Way of New York City, CCS Fundraising, the YWCA of the USA, the national I Have a Dream Foundation and High Water Women Foundation. In 2009, I moved back to Montreal to take the helm of The Foundation of Greater Montreal as its President & CEO. I later became a consultant. Chez Doris was one of my clients, and I enthusiastically became its Executive Director following the end of my successful mandate.

What are the challenges and issues related to your position in philanthropy?

I do not see many problem issues at Chez Doris though I do observe that there are many elderly donors and not as many young people who will replace them. Also, a good number of foundations no longer give recurring funding and the charities and the communities they serve face increasing uncertainty and diminished impact.

How would you define philanthropy today? How does this definition influence your working methods?

Philanthropy is giving of one’s resources, either in time or money, to a cause seen as beneficial for one’s community and beyond. I think that no matter the size of one’s gift, you must inspire people and show that their involvement makes a difference.

What advice would you give to someone who wishes to pursue a career in your profession/activity?

You must have passion for what you do and put in the time required.

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