Extra Event - October 23rd - Volunteer Management Hybrid Conference - "The Future is Now"

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TAVA Member Spotlight


Name: Heather Johnson

Organization: Canadian Cancer Society

RoleSenior Coordinator, Volunteer Engagement

Working in the Volunteer Engagement Sector for: 17 years

Been a part of TAVA for: 5 years

Heather has volunteered on the TAVA Executive Committee for a number of years, first as Secretary, then as President and Past President. Thank you Heather for your service and dedication to our professional community!


"Be a volunteer yourself (with an organization not your own) so you can see things better through the eyes of a volunteer and invest in your professional development annually."

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

TAVA links me with other volunteer engagement professionals across the city, many of who work in very different sectors than I work in/ have worked in. Through TAVA I have grown as a professional and as a person through regular contact with friends and colleagues.


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

My most memorable professional project was delivering my thesis research at Volunteer Toronto's VECTor Conference. The opportunity to share what I learned with new and seasoned professionals who challenged me with questions and supplied me with ideas for how to carry my initial research forward was very inspiring.

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


I am most proud of establishing the volunteer program at Footprints4Autism. This started as a project for my diploma program at George Brown and resulted in working with the organization for seven years to develop an engaging volunteer program in support of families with children on the autism spectrum.

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

The biggest challenge is the myriad of opportunities to engage people in volunteering. Volunteer Engagement entails so many factors: it is helping someone learn new skills; it is developing skills and qualities in people by giving them a vehicle through which they can grow; it is witnessing the building of community through people helping people; it is intergenerational and intercultural connections built around common goals; it is all these things and more.

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

Be a volunteer yourself (with an organization not your own) so you can see things better through the eyes of a volunteer and invest in your professional development annually. Become a member of your local AVA; take an on-line course; join your local Chamber of Commerce or BIA and find a mentor; or ask your closest non-profit/charitable organization for a meeting to learn how they do things.

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

I am an enthusiastic and completely novice gardener who enjoys playing in the dirt; an avid baseball fan (Go Jays Go!) and a lover of history, architecture, William Morris, and poking around my local museums and art galleries.

Published: May 2019
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