Champion Stories: Enter a world of Innovation, Dedication and Caring
Congratulations to our award winners, the social architects who help people make transformational changes to their lives and build thriving communities. Read more about them and be inspired!
Here are a few of our featured stories. All stories are taken from the nomination forms.
Community-Building (C) Award
Adanech is one of the most dedicated community leaders, advocates and organizers. No matter the scale of the issue, she has been able to bring people together to find practical ways of helping, by mobilizing not just her own efforts but the entire community. This has been especially important during the pandemic where some communities […]Read the full story
Judit Kovacs & Team
Front-Line Innovative Leadership (C) Award
The Language Assessment and Referral Centre at Immigrant Services Calgary (CLARC) provides English tests for immigrants who would like to study in federally and provincially funded language programs or enrol in professionally related courses in Calgary and Southern Alberta. Before COVID 19, CLARC provided the Canadian Language Benchmark Placement Test (CLBPT) in person in the […]Read the full story
Above and Beyond Dedication in Response to COVID-19 (C) Award
Fatima has worked for The Calgary Drop In Centre for quite a few years as a Case Manager however at the beginning of the pandemic, she realized that her knowledge and education in Health Care would be required. She, like so many of us over the last year, pivoted away from her position with the […]Read the full story
Front-Line Innovative Leadership Award
In March 2020, when Alberta went into lock down, Sagesse – like many other organizations – was forced to change their Direct Service programs. Sagesse offers in-person peer support programs. These programs are designed to be done with a facilitator and all participants in one room for a set amount of time each week. With […]Read the full story
Commitment to Person-Centered Practice (C) Award
Melissa Morrison is an outstanding youth worker at Avenue 15 who truly went above and beyond during the Covid -19 pandemic. Melissa wears many hats at Trellis. She is currently the Site Supervisor at Avenue 15, (was previously the resident manager at Treehouse (an apartment building for youth and families transitioning out of homelessness) and […]Read the full story
Community Development Team (Trellis)
The Community Development Program works in vulnerable communities at a macro level and strives to empower residents. Where community resources do not yet exist, the Community Development team works with resident groups and community organizations to create these supports. From there, the team helps engage, support and mobilize communities. The work is resident-led and feedback-informed. […]Read the full story
Commitment to Person-Centered Practice Award
Cathy Keough, Director of Counselling Initiatives at Calgary Counselling Centre (CCC) has put people at the heart of her work, adapting the way she leads her team of staff, and serves clients to meet their unique needs. Her commitment to person-centred care has been even more evident this past year while facing the challenges of […]Read the full story
Front Runners (Families Matter)
Partnership, Collaboration & Connection Award
When Covid-19 emerged, many kids may have found it initially exciting to have schools shut down, but the thrill did not last long. Growing numbers of children found themselves without physical connection to their important peers, and struggling with anxiety, isolation, loneliness, and depression. While some children have consistent support from responsive parents, others were […]Read the full story
Case Management Team (Homefront)
Partnership, Collaboration & Connection (C) Award
Frontline workers are at the core of HomeFront’s services and the work they do is incredibly impactful for families and victims of domestic violence in our city. The Case Management Team demonstrates partnership, collaboration and connection – this is central to success in the intervention and prevention of family violence in our city. HomeFront partners […]Read the full story
All Award Winners – Stories that Spark a Smile
Explore our award winner stories by recipient name, by United Way location and/or by year. There are close to 1,000 stories (and counting!) that are sure to inspire.Search Winners
Your Champion Stories
Cathy Brothers, CEO of Capacity Canada
1. Cathy as a Founding Director of Capacity Canada you have a long history of successes. Please share a few achievements that you feel really proud of.
In the 50-plus years that I have worked in charitable organizations, I have had so many opportunities to be part of activities that truly make a positive difference for individuals, families and communities. Many of my achievements are due to circumstances beyond my personal talents. As a Perennial, I was born into a small cohort who quickly became leaders. Due to my good fortune, both my birth order and my birth year have given me continuous leadership opportunities. I have loved all aspects of my career, and I have thrived on seeing the successes of many colleagues over the years.
In some of my earlier positions, in longstanding institutions, many of my successes were in recognizing barriers and dumb things that did not work. I always tried to create environments where change was constant and new ideas rewarded. One of the daunting challenges as the Founding Director of Capacity Canada was that no dumb things preceded me. Remarkable community innovators gave me an opportunity to create a brand new capacity building organization where change and risk-taking were top priorities. My old-math-mind related to challenging the status quo was not going to work in this position. I found myself in a dream role of finding and supporting big, visionary ideas that embolden non-profit organizations in creating a future where individuals, families and communities care for one another, are strong, and are resilient.
The Capacity Canada achievements that I am really proud of include:
• A world-class team whose values and commitment to social good are extraordinary
• A Board of Directors who truly get the value of growing the amount of social good that non-profits are capable of; and, who love generative conversations imagining a new world order
• Relationships and trust of non-profits across Canada who have the courage of Big Ideas to create new solutions to complex social problems
• Powerful partnerships with corporations that support the engagement of their employees in doing social good
• Innovative and dynamic governance development programs that go beyond expectations in shaping the future of social good
• The sense of joy and fun that motivates Capacity Canada in all its internal and external relationships
2. Please share your vision of CC for the next five years.
The range of size and capacity of non-profit organizations is mind-boggling.
Traditionally, small and medium size non-profits have toiled in isolation with little appreciation for their capacity-building needs and limited peer support.
Over the next five years, my vision is that Capacity Canada will provide 10,000 non-profits with the inspiration and capacity supports to master huge social issues.
The vision of Capacity Canada is a non-profit sector energized by the courage of big ideas and a commitment to changing the world.
3. How is your organization adapting its structures and processes to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion are top of mind? What changes/adaptations do you foresee for the Sector moving forward?
Capacity Canada’s Board has drawn the line in the sand. Long-standing practices, fostered by ignorance and distorted beliefs related to diversity, equity and inclusion are no longer tolerated. Board and staff policies have been rewritten to ensure that all decisions are considered through a lens of diversity, equity and inclusion. Leadership is accountable for demonstrating progress as Capacity Canada become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Capacity Canada is seeking active engagement with diverse networks. A plan for continuous education of board and staff related to diversity, equity and inclusion is underway.
Changes/adaptations related to diversity, equity and inclusion are taking place in the sector, at local, national, and global levels, at a notable speed. There are daily examples in the media regarding diminishing tolerance for all kinds of ignorance, prejudices, and biases. There is reason to be optimistic as the sector moves forward. However, the Sector must be vigilant. We must support people in positions of power in ensuring inclusion and equity for all. The core of discriminatory structures and processes is very deep and rotten.
4. Your thoughts on increasing the proportion of women in leadership positions in the Sector would be appreciated. What needs to change and how can we build momentum to ensure changes are made?
I am the wrong person to answer this question. In my experience, women have long held leadership positions in the Social Sector. Now, because this Sector has not always been valued by the larger society, women leaders probably have not achieved the levels of power needed for real social change. We have come a long way from the concept of the “lady almoner”. However, we have a long way to go before we have shared values related to “the deserving poor”. Somehow, the power of women is tied up in that evolution.
5. Thank you for your support of the Ontario Week of Appreciation for the Nonprofit Sector. Did the staff feel recognized? Please share your thoughts/quotes/anecdotes on the impact it had particularly on the staff/organizations.
Capacity Canada is very grateful to the mighty band of warriors who brought about the Ontario Week of Appreciation for the Nonprofit Sector. We felt supported and understood by the rationale for this Appreciation.
Our Public Relations team had fun promoting the week vigorously on our little footprint of social media. Our Team members also liked the chance to tell their stories.
An underlying discomfort is the focus on the provider. We are much more enthusiastic about telling the stories of the folks who benefit from our work.
I wonder if/how we could ever measure the impact of such Appreciation Weeks? If the goal is to make members of the Sector feel proud, we probably succeeded to some extent. If the goal is to change attitudes or inform those outside the Sector, I am not so sure we accomplish much.
That said, Capacity Canada wants to be a part of celebrating so many aspects of the Nonprofit Sector, and we strongly encourage the continuation of this Week. You have our full support for it.
From the Heart: Words about and from our Award Winners
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