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TAVA Member Spotlight

Name: Adriane Beaudry

Organization: Heart & Stroke Foundation

Role: Manager, Volunteer Engagement Strategy

Working in the Volunteer Engagement Sector for: 20 years

Been a part of TAVA for: 2 years, but was a member for a year many many years ago

"Never forget to keep having fun! We're so lucky to be in a profession where we get to open doors to make incredible impacts in the lives of others. That's a great responsibility but doesn't mean we need to be serious all the time."

As someone working in Volunteer Engagement, how does TAVA help you?

Connecting with others in this sector is vital. Often we're the only ones in our organization that does what we do so having a strong network of colleagues to share resources, knowledge and learnings with is vital to helping ensure we grow as professionals. Inexpensive professional development is also an important motivator for joining TAVA. Though at this point in my career, my schedule prevents me from attending regularly, the workshops TAVA offers keep me informed of trends and best practices.

In the past year, what was your most memorable professional project and why?

I think the most memorable professional project would be the development of volunteer engagement resources (forms and tools) to be used by employees at Heart & Stroke. Working with a pan-Canadian team of volunteers and volunteer leaders, we identified resources that were needed (many were identified by a team of volunteers who helped to develop our VE strategy).

We strategically chose the language we wanted to use (friendly, welcoming, non-jargon), drafted, shared and had buy-in/reviews from stakeholders across the country. It was a very demanding project and continues to evolve as additional resources are identified and created. These resources were created with sector best practices in mind. They were designed to be easy to use and set the stage for volunteers to have a positive experience with my organization... regardless of whom they connect with. Every employee has available at their fingertips, the resources to welcome volunteer candidates to the family.

Would you please explain the professional success you're most proud of and how you implemented it?

I think the success I'm most proud of is something that isn't tangible and doesn't have a start/end date...more it's part of my personal philosophy. I try on a daily basis to be a resource for others in the sector. I try to be a sounding board, share my own experiences and challenge others in the sector to learn and grow. I think that when we've been in the sector for a number of years, it's important to share the knowledge we have learned. On the flip side of that, by continuing to do this, I have been able to stay in touch with what's going on in the sector and stay in touch with innovations and solutions that volunteer leaders are implementing. I don't have all the answers, but I firmly believe that together, WE have a whole bunch of them! 

In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge to working in Volunteer Engagement?

It's funny that I recently had a conversation around this exact question. I think our biggest challenge is a lack of strategic advocacy. Because volunteer engagement isn't easily recognized as a professional career, we sometimes spin in circles and I would say in some circumstances we fall back into the 'nobody understands what I do' mentality. That may be true for us, but it's also true for thousands of other professionals... can you honestly say you know and understand what a Day Trader actually does or the professional path one needs to follow to do that job?

I think that 'we' (the Royal We), need to be more aligned locally, provincially, nationally and internationally to put move our profession and sector forward. Does that mean we have government support? Standardized course curriculum? Standardized professional ethics/values and standards? Potentially...

Yep, it's a start to have job postings that ask for professional designations or memberships within our AVA's, but strategically, we need to go above and beyond that... Perhaps this lack of advocacy and unified voice contributes to the fact that some of the same challenges we had 20 years ago, are still considered to be challenges today? (yeesh... I'll get down from my soap box now!)

What advice would you give to someone looking to take the next step in their Volunteer Engagement career?

Never stop learning and connecting!! Regardless of whether you're brand new, or a seasoned professional... you have skills, knowledge and talents to share. Keep learning- not just volunteer management topics that are straight forward (recruitment, retention, recognition, etc...) but consider the other skills you need- leadership, project management, budgeting, etc... Keep building those skills and bringing fresh ideas to your colleagues. Adopt a 'yes' mindset. Just because we've never done something in the past, doesn't mean we can't do it in the future. Listen to new ideas, respectfully question and challenge so that together, we forge new paths for our organizations and communities. Be bold! If you think you've got a great idea, explore it. If you think of innovations, tell folks and keep moving our sector forward! :)

Finally... never forget to keep having fun! We're so lucky to be in a profession where we get to open doors to make incredible impacts in the lives of others. That's a great responsibility but doesn't mean we need to be serious all the time. I heard a great quote from Trevor Noah recently... it's my philosophy and makes the day better... "Create an environment that feels less like working and more about having fun with a purpose". You don't need to spend your time laughing like a fool, and there are days best ended with a stress relieving activity (however you define that)... but more often than not, you're most likely enjoying the work you do and the impact you make...share that. Smile, laugh and enjoy the journey.

When you're not working, how do you like to spend your time?

When I'm feeling motivated- a nice run is the best! On a Saturday morning though, more often than not... coffee, couch and a good book! :)

Published: September 2018
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