Capacity Canada 2023 Annual Report

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2023 Annual Report

A Message From CEO & Board Chair

Bringing together the ideas, people, and resources that fuel social innovation

Mission Principles Vision Values


Leadership Entrepreneurship Impacts Courageous Inclusive Communities that Excel


Diversity Optimism


6 Our Board of Directors Kitchener-Waterloo Citizen of the Year 36 Capacity by Design Empowering Change with Design Thinking 64 ModernBoard Board Governance Program 14 Featured Stories Highlights of 2023 48 Conestoga College Working with Students 68 PR Student Experience Working with Students 86 Sponsors & Financials 26 2023 BootCamp Preparing Non-profits and Leaders for Success 58 MatchBoard Pairing Employees with Non-profits 72 Gen Z on Boards Bridging the Gap 88 Our Team Meet Our Team Contents

Our Board Of Directors

2024 to Bring More Positive Outcomes

Currently, the Chief Pension Services Officer for the University Pension Plan Ontario, Joanna Lohrenz, leads UPP’s day-to-day execution and oversight of member and employer services and regulatory compliance related to pension administration.

With a glass-half-full perspective, Joanna embraces the value of optimism, recognizing the transformative power of collective action and collaboration. “As we work together with organizations from the sector, we can make an impact, and we can see our communities thrive,” says Joanna.

As the board chair for Capacity Canada, Joanna stands with an organization dedicated to catalyzing social innovation and driving positive change in communities across the nation. “There remains a growing demand for governance training, enhanced diversity around the board table, including representation from youth, and increased support for initiatives such as leveraging human-centered design to address pressing societal issues,” highlights Joanna.

Looking towards the future, Joanna envisions a landscape marked by expanded programs. “I see more programs, more impact, and positive outcomes for communities nationwide.”

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Cynthia WesleyEsquimaux Board Member Joe Sehl Board Member Raksha M. Bhayana Board Member Cathy Brothers CEO Joanna Lohrenz Board Chair Jeanette Bancarz Board Member Tim Rollins Board Member

Cathy Brothers CEO

Kitchener-Waterloo Citizen of the Year

Recognized as the 64th Kitchener-Waterloo Citizen of the Year, Cathy Brothers is well known for her work in health and social services across the Waterloo Region!

A champions’ champion with over 50 years of experience in the social services sector, Cathy’s volunteerism and professional career give her the advantage of seeing opportunities from both board and administrative perspectives.

As both a senior leader and a board member, Cathy is passionately committed to innovative ideas, risk-taking, and helping individuals and

communities reach their maximum potential. In 2010, she took on the role of founding CEO of Capacity Canada. Cathy is committed to growing social good throughout Canada through optimism, innovation, and entrepreneurship. She recognizes collaboration within and among sectors as pivotal to the growth of social good.

“I have worked in the charitable sector for over five decades and have loved every opportunity to truly make a positive difference in the lives of individuals and the bigger communities. I hope to continue to support other non-profit organizations in meeting their capacity!”

Building Courageous Communities

Tim is the EY Waterloo Region Office Managing Partner and Tax Partner for a number of public and privately held technology, advanced manufacturing, and mobility companies located in the Toronto-Waterloo Innovation corridor.

Before re-joining EY in 2015, Tim held senior tax and finance leadership roles at Sandvine (20142015) and BlackBerry (2001-2014), including VP, Tax and VP, CFO Transformation and Governance roles at BlackBerry.

As one of Capacity Canada’s board members, Tim believes the organization continues to build momentum as the go-to Canadian institution and globally recognized leader in community building. “Capacity Canada is well on its way to being a global leader in enabling courageous and inclusive communities that excel!”

In addition to serving on the board of Capacity Canada, Tim is the current Chair of the St. Mary’s General Hospital Board of Trustees and an active mentor with the University of Waterloo’s School of Accounting and Finance.

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Click Tim to watch his Donor Video

Leading Non-profit Boards to Success Illuminating the Path Forward

Jeanette Bancarz, Vice President of training & strategy for Synergy Group of Companies at the Villeneuve Airport near Edmonton, Alberta, is passionate about serving her community, leading great people, building audacious strategy, and creating an amazing learning experience.

Jeanette has a lengthy history of serving and leading non-profit boards on a community, provincial, and national level, which has allowed her to develop her board governance skills. “I believe strong boards make strong organizations that can provide relevant and effective service

to their communities. Governance is a key component of a strong board.”

Jeanette firmly believes in the impact Capacity Canada programs have on non-profit organizations and is proud of how the Capacity Canada Team builds stronger communities through their work.

“I see Capacity Canada expanding their programs across the country. The team continues to be at the forefront of trending, critical issues of the nonprofit sector. Creating solutions that effectively address these issues.”

A graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University, Joe Sehl brings over thirty years of invaluable insight gained from his tenure at IBM to his role as a board member with Capacity Canada.

Joe’s journey with IBM has seen him assume various sales and executive management roles, culminating in his current responsibility for IBM Canada’s Innovation Agenda. For Joe, the alignment between his recent work at IBM and the mission of Capacity Canada is unmistakable.

“My most recent work at IBM dovetails perfectly with what I find to be the most exciting aspect of Capacity Canada’s work – growing the capability of our non-profit community to drive social innovation,” Joe remarks. “And I love the endless optimism the Capacity Canada team displays in pursuing these goals.”

Driven by a desire to make a positive difference in society, Joe’s commitment to Capacity Canada stems from a profound belief in the power of the non-profit sector to strengthen communities.

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Jeanette Bancarz Board Member Joe Sehl Board Member

Recognizing the Invisible Champions: Raksha’s Journey with Capacity Canada

Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux Board Member

Raksha M. Bhayana Board Member

Cynthia Brings Invaluable Insights & Knowledge

Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux served as Vice Provost for Indigenous Initiatives at Lakehead University for three years. Effective September 2016, she was appointed as the first Indigenous Chair for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada for Lakehead University and continues developing pathways to reconciliation across Canada. With a rich history of community engagement and a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), Cynthia brings invaluable insights and passion to Capacity Canada through her ongoing work on Truth and Reconciliation.

“I am deeply interested in governance and sit on several different boards. I love and respect diversity, and I believe it’s important to keep learning and sharing knowledge. One of the best ways to do this was to join Capacity Canada’s team.”

Cynthia was inducted as an “Honourary Witness” by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in 2014 and is the Chair of the Governing Circle for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba.

The value and salience of charity have been deeply embedded in Raksha M. Bhayana, one of Capacity Canada’s board members. “My family has been active in the charitable space for several generations. As immigrants to Canada, it was an opportunity to give back to a country that has been welcoming and allowed us to grow personally and professionally.”

The Bhayana Family Foundation (BFF) has led the advocacy, with its partners, for the creation of a day/week of recognition for the non-profit sector across Canada since 2019. Thus far, Ontario has legislated a Week of Appreciation in December 2021, Nova Scotia a Day in 2020, and British Columbia a Day in 2023. BFF is now leading the charge for a Canada Day of Appreciation for the non-profit sector.

“There is a compelling need to create awareness of the value of the non-profit sector, its breadth and reach. It contributes 8.3% to the economy, and its social contribution is immeasurable at present. As Imagine Canada says - it touches and benefits us through arts, culture, recreation, sports, human services, social justice, environmental concerns, education, and much more.’’

Raksha praises the range of training and mentoring programs that Capacity Canada offers to other non-profit organizations and their leadership team. This is one of the many reasons she joined the board.

“Capacity Canada, under the visionary leadership of Cathy Brothers, enables non-profit organizations to maximize their strengths and resources, catalyzes and fuels innovative ideas and thinking, and ensures the community’s well-being.”

Raksha is excited about what’s in store for 2024!

“I’m fortunate to be on Capacity Canada’s board and plan to keep the advocacy for a Canada Day of Appreciation for the Non-profit Sector going.”

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Championing Diversity and Truth:

Cynthia’s Journey Towards Inclusion and Advocacy

With a rich history of community engagement and a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), through her ongoing work on Truth and Reconciliation, Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux brings invaluable insights and passion to Capacity Canada. A serious advocate of public education on Indigenous issues, Cynthia has devoted her life to educating people on the issues that matter most to her and her community. “I promised myself when I was much younger that I would work hard to change the face of Aboriginal Canada to a positive one, and I have consistently dedicated my life to doing so.”

With a wealth of experience from sitting on multiple boards, Cynthia recognized the opportunity to contribute her expertise and perspective to an organization that shares her values and vision. “I am deeply interested in governance and sit on several different boards. I love and respect diversity, and believe it’s important to keep learning and sharing knowledge. One of the best ways to do this was to join Capacity Canada’s team.”

“There is still so much work to be done! It’s important to continue a dialogue around DEI and educate ourselves.”

Cynthia’s diverse portfolio involves extensive work with community organizations and boards. From Senator Gwen Boniface’s Reconciliation Circle to the Sharing Place and Teach for Canada, Cynthia is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of others. Her involvement with Arts Orillia and Citizens Against Road Salt further underscores her commitment to supporting the arts and environmental conservation. Cynthia is deeply engaged in international travel focused on Truth and Reconciliation matters. With trips to Norway, Sweden, Taiwan and an amazing journey to Brazil to hear the first official apology to Indigenous peoples, she is committed to fostering meaningful conversations and driving positive change on a global scale.

“There is still so much work to be done! It’s important to continue a dialogue around DEI and educate ourselves. I consistently advocate for deeper conversations, cultural exchanges, and mutual understanding as essential steps towards a more inclusive society,” Cynthia added.

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Serving Our Communities Better

Thirteen individuals, representing six local nonprofit organizations, gathered on the evening of January 30th to share what they are proud of in the community, the requirements to build off these successes, and what Capacity Canada should be paying attention to in the next few months or years. The organizations have worked closely with Capacity Canada in the past and present and represent small, medium, and large social good organizations in Waterloo Region. The group was comprised of board members and senior leaders from the sub-sectors of disability services, poverty and housing, mental health services, and end-of-life care.

Community Impact:

• Successfully advocating with different provincial departments to streamline the application process for those with disabilities to apply for housing

• Merging three organizations to better serve the mental health needs of the community with an emphasis on trusting relationships and shared decision-making through the process

• Completing the build of a new facility that expands the palliative care options for the community

• Meeting fundraising targets during COVID with the goal of creating more accessible housing in the region

Expanding the number of communities supported in a national effort to end chronic homelessness

“We aim to support organizations that support the whole sector’s ability to lead change and work collaboratively. Capacity Canada is doing that with their programs, and appears to be leaning into the strengths and expertise of lived experience – another attribute we think is necessary for community organizations to lead the way as we all try to navigate complex and tricky challenges.”

What is Needed:

• Better alignment and coordination amongst service providers in the disability services space to better respond to community needs and create system adaptations to meet the needs of a changing landscape of funding and service expectations

Increasing internal capacity to meet the growing needs of the community

What Can Capacity Canada Do:

• Support planning for partnerships, mergers, and collaborations as major health care shifts continue

• Find synergy between local and national discourse on critical issues

• Connecting leaders across the local ecosystem for the sharing of ideas

• Support for collaboration efforts, partnerships, amalgamations, etc.

Responding to delayed/deferred impacts of burnout from the pandemic

• Enhance the development of requisite capabilities of senior agency leaders and board chairs

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Supporting Capacity Canada’s Mission of Empowerment and Governance Excellence

Bill Creighton’s decade-long journey with Capacity Canada began with attending the Board Governance BootCamp, which profoundly influenced his perspective on governance and organizational management.

“One of my friends introduced me to Cathy Brothers over a decade ago, and through her, I learned about the BootCamp. The Board Governance BootCamp was fantastic! There was so much I learned — that helped me grow personally, and in my role of leading our organization,” recalls Bill. “Capacity Canada is well known for training boards. The training tells you what true governance means, your responsibilities as a CEO/ED or board member, and how to achieve the organization’s goals. That was big for me. In the past ten years, I have attended the BootCamp twice,” says Bill, CEO of Chicopee and a long-time supporter of Capacity Canada.

Recognizing the pivotal role of governance in sustaining Chicopee’s mission and operations, Bill highlights the invaluable support provided by Capacity Canada in navigating the complexities of governance compliance and organizational sustainability. “We are focused on the sustainability of our organization,” emphasizes Bill. “The governance

Bill Creighton Donor Story
“We are here to service the community.”

part is a big piece, and that’s where Capacity Canada has helped us immensely.”

As Chicopee, a not-for-profit organization that receives no government funding, prepares a 10year strategic plan focused on expansion, new lifts, and a chalet renovation, Bill remains committed to maintaining the organization’s accessibility and community focus. “We are here to service the community. We try to keep everything at a cost where it’s accessible,” he affirms.

Beyond governance training and compliance support, Bill emphasizes the importance of Capacity Canada’s role in promoting diversity and inclusivity. “The diversity piece is a big focus for us in the ski industry. Our staff and clientele are becoming more diverse, and Capacity Canada has guided us in developing more inclusionary practices, and policies.” Explains Bill. “I also firmly believe that Capacity Canada’s work over the years has contributed significantly to the well-being of diverse communities!”

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Bill for his invaluable support and faith in Capacity Canada. We are blessed to have him by our side during this journey that began over a decade ago!

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Ian Continues With His ‘Third Act’ in the Social Sector

Ian McDonald’s career journey has more interesting stops and turns than the roads from his hometown of Ottawa to Waterloo Region, his current home for almost 25 years. With a background in business and computer science, Ian’s experience is uniquely wide, from high-tech giants like Nortel and BlackBerry to innovative start-ups like Aeryon Labs. Later, he ventured into the tech-enabled financial sector, driving innovation at TD Bank’s Innovation Lab and Centre of Excellence. During his time at Communitech, Ian’s perspective widened even more, igniting a passion for cross-sector collaboration and social impact.

Joining Capacity Canada as an Executive-In-Residence was a natural progression for Ian, driven by his desire for a “third act” in the social sector. “I took Capacity Canada’s Modern Board course, and it served as a catalyst for my transition. Capacity Canada has supported the sustainability and growth of social sector organizations nationwide.”

Ian is spearheading a pilot program to provide facilitated organizational assessments for non-profits. This comprehensive service includes assessment surveys and leadership sessions to identify key capacity-building priorities and drive action.

“After a series of successful pilot engagements, our focus is shifting to scale up the assessment program to support even more non-profits.”

“After a series of successful pilot engagements, our focus is shifting to scale up the assessment program to support more even non-profits. We are also integrating assessments with other Capacity Canada services, such as strategic planning where understanding organizational capacity helps with effective strategy activation,” Ian states. What Ian enjoys most about working with Capacity Canada is the opportunity to collaborate with a team of exceptional leaders dedicated to making a difference. His persistent and creative approach, coupled with a commitment to positive leadership, has been instrumental in driving the success of the pilot program.

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Team Member Featured Story

Exploring a New program for Strengthening executive Leadership

Capacity Canada’s Executive-In-Residence, Scott Haldane’s journey in the charitable sector spans over four decades. With a rich background in nonprofit management, Scott’s career commenced with the YMCA of Montreal, where he progressively assumed more senior leadership roles. His tenure as President & CEO at various YMCA organizations, including Hamilton/Burlington, Greater Toronto, and YMCA Canada, highlights his commitment to impact, relevance, and sustainability.

Following his retirement from the YMCA, Scott took on a new challenge as the inaugural President and CEO of the Rideau Hall Foundation.

As an Executive-In-Residence at Capacity Canada, Scott brings a wealth of knowledge and a passion for supporting leaders in the charitable sector. Recognizing executives’ inherent challenges and isolation, Scott believes peer support groups could be a vital resource for professional development and well-being.

“Our current focus is on conducting market research for potential partnerships and ensuring thoughtful program design.”

“Executive-in-Residence Meagan Conway and I are exploring the potential for a pilot program. Our current focus is on conducting market research for potential partnerships and ensuring thoughtful program design,” he states.

Scott and Meagan are exploring the possibility of an initial pilot in the Ottawa/Gatineau region, which could potentially be scaled across Canada. “The CEO/ED role is, by definition, often lonely. Many CEO/ED leaders face challenging issues both personally and organizationally, which cannot be discussed with board members or senior staff. The private sector has successfully used peer support groups for many years. We believe this model could and should be developed to support senior executives in the non-profit/charitable sector,” he shared.

When he isn’t working with Capacity Canada, Scott spends his time in nature. His dedication to lifelong learning extends to wildlife photography, where he has garnered recognition from esteemed organizations like Nature Canada and the Canadian Wildlife Federation.

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2023 BootCamp

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Preparing Non-Profits and Leaders For Success!

The backbone of any successful organization, especially in the non-profit sector, lies in the strength and efficacy of its board. Every year, numerous individuals commit their skills and time to steer non-profit organizations toward a better future by serving as board members. However, the effectiveness of these boards hinges on the preparedness and training of its directors in governance roles. Unfortunately, many boards face challenges in adequately educating new and existing directors.

This is where Capacity Canada’s Board Governance BootCamp steps in, ensuring that directors receive comprehensive knowledge, essential resources, and invaluable guidance to equip them for success! This year’s three-day annual Board Governance BootCamp was held at the Bingemans Conference Centre on November 28, 29, and 30. The keynote speakers included Cassie Campbell-Pascal, Olympic gold-winning Hockey player and broadcaster for Sportsnet and ESPN; Steven Woods, partner and CTO of Inovia; and Eldon Sprickerhoff, founder and strategic advisor of eSentire.

The opening reception was a beautiful performance by Gi Zhawenimin (I love you in Ojibwe) Indigenous Wraparound Youth Group. This grassroots Indigenous group was founded by Leslie Bartlett in 2013, and it provides support for caregivers and wraparound care for youth who are or have aged out of the child welfare system.

“At Capacity Canada, we understand that everyone has different needs. For the second time in a row this year, we gave participants the opportunity to choose the path they seemed most suited for themselves. People new to boards and experienced directors could decide which sessions they wanted to attend,” says Cathy Brothers, CEO, Capacity Canada.

Led by an incredible roster of industry professionals, including CEOs, EDs, and board members, the BootCamp was attended by over 150 participants from across Canada and abroad. A spectacular lineup of 17 speakers

“I want every participant to understand fun development and be able to make a difference.”

covered vast topics such as strategic planning, risk management, understanding your organization’s financial statements, collaborative governance approaches, and creating an inclusive culture.

This year, Capacity Canada had two preBootCamp workshops. Founder and CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer) of KEA Canada, Kathy Arney, hosted the highly anticipated workshop – Elevate your Impact: Non-profit Board Members Fundraising. “I want every participant to understand fund development and be able to make a difference. That’s how you empower an organization to maximize its impact,” said Kathy.

Participants were given opportunities to reflect on what they had learned and share their experiences. Our speakers and facilitators ensured each participant left the program with a greater understanding and knowledge of effective governance.

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Capacity Canada’s Board Governance BootCamp prepares board members with the skills they need to be successful in their roles and for the organization to excel. It speaks to the needs of both new and experienced directors. “There is always something to learn, evolve your practices,

your thinking about how boards can be effective. You have to invest in good governance,” stated Marion Thomson, Executive-In-Residence at Capacity Canada.

Here’s what some of the participants had to say about their experience.

“Being able to attend this BootCamp, especially at this critical time of start-up, has been a serious game changer for me. It has provided me with a pathway to start laying a sustainable foundation for us in year 2.”

Cassie Campbell-Pascall, a celebrated Olympic gold-winning hockey player turned renowned broadcaster for Sportsnet and ESPN, was one of the keynote speakers at Capacity Canada’s Board

Governance BootCamp this year. A trailblazer for women in sports, Cassie was Canada’s longestserving captain in the history of the Canadian National Women’s Team!

“A big thank you to the Capacity Canada team. I haven’t stopped telling people about the conference. Truly one of the few times I can say I came home with several very actionable items.”

“You have to be humble. Leave your ego at the door, be transparent and work collaboratively with other board members towards your shared objectives. If you want to see change, be that one person that takes a negative situation and turns it into a positive one.”

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Pam Fanjoy Fanjoy Cooking up Change

Tender Loving Daycare: Transforming Childcare and Community in Cambridge

Families with young children must often make a difficult choice between spending a significant portion of their income on childcare, finding a cheaper but potentially lower-quality care option, or leaving the workforce altogether to become fulltime caregivers. High cost and limited availability are some challenges that systematically drive parents out of the workforce. And it’s not a secret that challenges to finding good childcare have become a barrier to work, especially for mothers in most cases, who disproportionately take on unpaid caregiving responsibilities when their family cannot find or afford child care.

In the heart of Cambridge in Ontario, a nonprofit organization is changing what childcare looks like. Cambridge is an underserved area with not nearly enough licensed childcare spaces to meet demand, and Tender Loving Daycare

(TLD) currently provides licensed childcare for 45 children in the city.

From its inception, TLD aimed to be more than just a childcare facility —it strived to be an inclusive space where families and friends could come together comfortably. “There was a dire need for quality and inclusive childcare. A lot of childcare facilities have a two-year waitlist. We couldn’t find childcare that was inclusive and had good education support systems that were budgetfriendly,” Kayla Wright, Board Chair of TLD, expressed.

“The struggle wasn’t merely finding a place for children. It was about empowering parents, especially primary caregivers, to pursue their careers without sacrificing the well-being of their children. How do women or the primary caregiver parent go back to work? We are changing that with our non-profit organization.”

The organization acknowledged the need for a unified and experienced board to elevate its functions and fulfill its vision. The answer came in the form of Capacity Canada’s Board Governance BootCamp –an intensive learning experience that provided insights into fundraising, taxation, and operational excellence. “We had the skills, the vision, and many great ideas but did not have a unified board. The BootCamp had everything we needed,” Kayla recounted.

Armed with newfound knowledge and strategies, TLD is enthusiastic about implementing what they

have learned. “Our board needed more experience to function at our best. How do you fundraise? How do you hit those numbers? How do we bring our expertise together for a stronger board? That’s where the BootCamp came in. And we have benefitted from the two days so much,” Kayla added.

TLD’s board is certain that the learnings from the BootCamp will play a pivotal role in fortifying TLD’s infrastructure and operations.

“There was a dire need for quality and inclusive childcare. A lot of childcare facilities have a twoyear waitlist. We couldn’t find childcare that was inclusive and had good education support systems that were budget-friendly.”
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Studio 180 Theatre: Provoking Thought, Catalyzing Change

Nestled in the vibrant artistic city of Toronto, Studio 180 Theatre was founded with a mission to engage, provoke, and entertain. This non-profit organization transcends the traditional confines of theatre, venturing boldly into the realm of societal introspection and transformation. At the heart of their vision lies a commitment to leveraging live theatre as a catalyst for deeper societal engagement and change.

Central to Studio 180’s approach is the amalgamation of compelling, thought-provoking plays —often Canadian or North American premieres of internationally renowned works —alongside innovative, beyond-the-stage experiences. These multifaceted productions serve as a platform to address pressing social and political issues, deftly woven into narratives that resonate deeply with audiences.

“Our work is theatre that makes people think, challenging preconceived notions and addressing

critical issues,” says Matthew Emek, the President and Board Chair of Studio 180 Theatre.

What sets Studio 180 apart is not just the quality of their performances but their commitment to forging partnerships and fostering collaborations. Operating without a dedicated venue, the theatre company collaborates extensively with various organizations.

This collaborative spirit extends beyond artistic endeavours, enabling them to expand their reach and impact within the community.

“When I first heard about Capacity Canada’s Governance BootCamp through another board member, I knew it would be helpful for me to attend. My experience at the BootCamp was transformative, particularly for a newly-appointed Board Chair. The session focusing on strategic planning and modern board challenges offered tangible insights into enhancing governance practices and steering our organization towards greater efficacy,” Matthew added.

“Our work is theatre that makes people think, challenging preconceived notions and addressing critical issues.”

He further expressed that the Essentials track was an excellent experience for him. “Our organization is in the early stages of creating our next strategic plan, and I found the session on strategic planning to be the most valuable. I can see our Board using key learnings from the session during the process.

I recognize the importance of implementing

policies that fortify our organization’s governance structure and found the session helpful in understanding that.”

For next year, Matthew says he would love to see other staff and board members attend future BootCamp sessions as he feels everyone can benefit from the learnings.

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By Design

37 36 Capacity Canada 2023 | Capacity by Design

Empowering Change Through Design Thinking

Capacity Canada’s commitment to fostering innovation and addressing complex challenges within the non-profit sector shines through its Design Collective Program. Made possible by the generous support of the Suncor Energy Foundation, this initiative offers organizations a unique opportunity to enhance their capacity through human-centred design thinking. The program invites organizations to send two staff members to participate in comprehensive training on human-centred design thinking, accompanied by personalized coaching and mentoring. This professional development opportunity equips participants with invaluable

skills to tackle pressing issues within their organizations, all at no cost.

Recently, the inaugural cohort of the Design Collective Program concluded their training in October, and the participants are now actively applying their newfound knowledge to real-world projects. Ann Besner and Chelsea Chandrakanthan from Diabetes Canada are leveraging design thinking principles to conduct a comprehensive stakeholder needs assessment for their website.

Similarly, members from the Waterloo Public Library are harnessing human-centred design to enhance their community programming,

ensuring it meets the diverse needs of their patrons effectively.

Notably, Capacity Canada’s own Fableeha Choudhury is spearheading the development of an evaluation framework for the organization using human-centred design methodologies. Collaborating closely with the Capacity Canada team, she is working towards implementing a robust evaluation approach encompassing outputs, outcomes, and impact, aligning with the organization’s commitment to continuous improvement.

The impact of the Design Collective Program extends beyond the first cohort, as Capacity

Canada launched its second cohort in Calgary on November 10. This new cohort comprises four diverse organizations: Calgary Climate Hub, Parent’s Survival Resource & Connection Society, Accessible Housing, and The Marriage Advocate. They have completed their course training and are now working on their applied projects.

Through the Design Collective Program, Capacity Canada continues to empower non-profit organizations with the tools and strategies needed to drive positive change within their communities. By fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration, this initiative reinforces Capacity Canada’s mission to build stronger, more resilient organizations across Canada’s non-profit sector.

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StepStones For Youth Changing Lives

A charitable organization based in Toronto, StepStones For Youth is dedicated to addressing the critical and unmet needs of marginalized children and youth aged 10-25 who are involved in Ontario’s Child Protection Services and have significant histories of trauma, abuse, and unstable guardian care. It is also one of the organizations participating in Capacity Canada’s Human-Centred Design Thinking Program –Capacity by Design.

The mandate of the organization is to change the trajectories of young people in and transitioning out of the foster care system through increased educational achievement, improving mental and physical health, securing safe and longterm housing, and building strong networks of supportive adults to increase their sense of belonging and connections to culture and community.

Through innovative and impact-driven programming and vision, StepStones actively strives to remove systemic barriers for racialized and marginalized youth over-represented in child protection services.

As a participant in Capacity Canada’s design program, StepStones is keen on comprehending the Human-Centered Design approach to tackle challenges confronting marginalized youth. The organization aims to learn best practices for bringing key stakeholders together and prioritize youth with lived experience in foster care to develop innovative solutions that will improve the poor outcomes they face.

Stepstones hopes to learn how it can draw on its collective expertise and network of relationships

to engage in design thinking to achieve better outcomes for marginalized youth.

Capacity by Design is founded on a humancentered design approach, which incorporates the perspectives of stakeholders when making a change or considering new directions of an organization. Approaching challenges in collaboration with stakeholders means that organizations are ‘solving with’ the people whose lives they impact.

“Through innovative and impact-driven programming and vision, StepStones actively strives to remove systemic barriers for racialized and marginalized youth over-represented in child protection services.”
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Diabetes Canada

using the power of design thinking!

Improving the quality of life for people with diabetes is at the heart of Diabetes Canada’s commitment to all Canadians diagnosed with this chronic health condition. That means connecting children and youth with type 1 diabetes through Diabetes Canada’s D-Camps; providing healthcare professionals and people with diabetes with expert information that improves care and selfmanagement; supporting researchers working on leading-edge treatments; and advocating on behalf of those with diabetes for equity, improved access to medications and supplies, and more.

Diabetes Canada is one of the participants of Capacity Canada’s Human-Centred Design Thinking Program – Capacity by Design. The organization’s digital team has been using design thinking to complete a re-envisioning of its website based on stakeholder needs. The team consulted a wide variety of internal and external stakeholders and designed a user journey that incorporates the unique needs of their constituents. Once the new site is launched, Diabetes Canada plans to continue refining it based on stakeholder feedback.

“Spending time ideating is really useful for coming up with lots of different ways to meet stakeholder needs.”

“The whole human-centred design process was new to me. I appreciate everything about it.

The cycle of developing a prototype, testing it, refining it, and re-testing it has been particularly transformative,” shared Ann Besner, Senior Manager, Diabetes Knowledge and Connection, Diabetes Canada. “I like the idea that it’s acceptable to pilot something that’s ‘half-baked’, that it’s okay to arrive at a product or program only after many rounds of testing and refining, and that effective problem solving isn’t about coming up with a perfect solution immediately,” she added.

Diabetes Canada hopes the design-thinking process will also help the organization develop high-quality education and support assets for its

constituents. “Spending time ideating is really useful for coming up with lots of different ways to meet stakeholder needs,” Ann shares.

While reflecting on learnings, Ann says the designthinking process is broadly applicable, logical, and effective. “It’s hard to think of a sector that wouldn’t stand to gain from using human-centred design principles in its work.”

Ann says she and her Diabetes Canada colleague who were privileged to participate in the collective enjoyed their experience. She hopes to find a way to train more people within her team on humancentred design so that it can become a more widely used practice in her organization.

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Using Design Thinking To Inspire People To Live Lives Worth Living

Based in Waterloo, Adventure4Change (A4C) is a non-profit organization with one goal - to prevent poverty and negative life trajectories by inspiring self-discovery using the A4C model to enable communities to make meaningful contributions to society. The organization offers year-round programming for children, youth, parents, and families who live in vulnerable and low-income neighbourhoods in Waterloo, several of whom have newcomer backgrounds.

“These families often find it difficult to access meaningful, affordable, and nearby after-

school activities. A4C, therefore, addresses these inequities by administering relevant programming throughout the year, related but not limited to education, physical activity, and learning new skills,” says Elysia Bednarek, Program Director at A4C.

Adventure4Change is one of the organizations that is part of Capacity Canada’s Human-Centred Design Thinking Program – Capacity by Design.

“The five-week training sessions, during which we learned and implemented the teachings in practice sessions, were very insightful and

“The five-week training sessions, during which we learned and implemented the teachings in practice sessions, were very insightful and thorough.”

thorough,” reflects Elysia. Liz and Hugh gave us all the tools and guidance necessary to successfully begin running our design-thinking process at A4C, and we are excited to see where this process takes us.”

The Program and Youth Team at Adventure4Change hopes to use the teachings learned through the Design Thinking process to better understand their programs and thus update and create new programs based on this process. “Our organization has significantly changed throughout the past few years in terms of both demographics and the number of participants in our programs. We, therefore, want to review and potentially revise our programs to ensure that we meet the community’s current needs. We are beginning this journey of the Desing Thinking program by re-evaluating one of our youth programs called Connect, and then we will move on to all other new and existing programs,” adds Elysia.

Aiming to change the world by inspiring people to live lives of self-worth, respect, opportunity, and contribution, Capacity Canada cannot wait to see A4C’s future journey.

45 44 Capacity Canada 2023 | Capacity by Design

Creating A Diverse And Equitable Board

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the core of Capacity Canada’s work, and our research has shown that non-profit boards still have a long way to go in achieving diversity. There is no simple way to create diverse and inclusive boards. Those in leadership positions must actively identify barriers at multiple levels and build strategies to address these barriers. However, we cannot identify barriers till we examine our own internal biases and belief systems that have been influenced by colonial practices and culture. We must look within ourselves and learn how we perpetuate stereotypes in our policies and practices.

“At Capacity Canada, we understand that diverse boards bring a variety of insights, experiences and perspectives to the table, and these lead to effective board governance. Capacity Canada’s aim is to prepare leaders to lead organizational change and culture shifts associated with diversity in their respective organizations,” says Cathy Brothers, CEO, Capacity Canada.

Research shows that diverse and inclusive boards have a more significant impact on the communities they serve. However, it also indicates that most boards engage in tokenism, where people from different backgrounds are brought on as board members to fill their ‘quota’ of diversity.

As Olumide (Mide) Akerewusi, founder and CEO of AGENTSC Inc., pointed out in one of his sessions for our Board Governance BootCamp “When Black and Indigenous peoples are invited to boards, it seems to be with the intention for us to make up for diversity rather than voice our opinions. Black and Indigenous peoples seek choice, voice and control. Not many Canadian boards are willing to facilitate truly authentic Black and Indigenous leadership.”

Diversity represents who belongs and ensures efficiency in governance on multiple levels. Research has proven, time and again, that diversity drives innovation. This in itself should be enough for non-profit boards to intensify efforts to embrace the power of different experiences each person brings to the table.

“When non-profit boards do not have a culture of diversity and inclusion, they are approaching social justice issues with only a partial lens. They can only see the issues from the perspective of their own experience. To be more effective in

“When non-profit boards do not have a culture of diversity and inclusion, they are approaching social justice issues with only a partial lens.”

addressing social issues, we need to stand with the marginalized populations we most often serve rather than standing above and giving a helping hand,” says Susan Radwan, Creator and Author, Modern Board.

She further adds that a healthy board recognizes that each person brings intersectionality of many perspectives that go far beyond visible diversity.

Understanding intersectionality recognizes that marginalized people suffer discrimination from multiple perspectives, such as religion, race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, and healthcare inequities. Capacity Canada’s work with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is supported by Manulife, Suncor Energy Foundation, and Lyle S. Hallman Foundation. We are also a proud member of the 50-30 Challenge, a Government of Canada initiative to improve access for women, racialized persons, including Black Canadians, people who identify as LGBTQ2, persons living with disabilities, as well as First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to positions of influence and leadership on corporate boards and in senior management.

47 46 Capacity Canada 2023 | Capacity by Design

Conestoga College

49 48 Capacity Canada 2023 | Conestoga College

Creative Day For Social Good

Every year, Capacity Canada invites non-profit organizations from across Canada to apply to participate in Creative Day For Social Good (CD4SG). Around 100 students pursuing Public Relations and Graphic Design from Conestoga College team up with industry professionals to create free-of-cost marketing tools for participating charitable non-profits. This year, the two-day design marathon was hosted at Google’s office!

The annual event, in partnership with Intertek Catalyst, Conestoga College, Manulife, HIM&HER, and the creative community, is an excellent opportunity for organizations with small to no marketing budgets to receive valuable design and marketing tools for no cost. It has enabled charitable non-profits to access professional resources to build their brand and have a more significant social impact. Together, the teams produced more than $100,000 of pro bono work!

51 50 Capacity Canada 2023 | Conestoga College

CD4SG Project Highlights

53 52 Capacity Canada 2023 | Conestoga College

Parents For Community Living Gets A Brand Refresh!

Parents For Community Living KW (PCL), a nonprofit organization based in the heart of KitchenerWaterloo, has been on a mission to support and uplift individuals within their diverse community. Their journey took an impactful turn when they participated in Capacity Canada’s Creative Day for Social Good (CD4SG) program.

For PCL, the path to CD4SG had been paved through years of active involvement with Capacity Canada’s services. “We had long yearned for a brand refresh, and witnessing the transformative impact of CD4SG on local organizations around us fueled our excitement to be part of this impactful program,” said Katherine Loveys, Chief Executive Officer, PCL.

PCL offers meaningful services and supports for persons with exceptional needs. The organization aimed not just for a visual upgrade but to authentically represent the uniqueness of the individuals they supported and the essence of their community.

“The prospects were thrilling—engaging with talented students from Conestoga College, collaborating with creative professionals, and revitalizing their marketing materials, including designing a fresh logo,” Loveys added.

Post-pandemic, resources were scant, and challenges loomed over PCL. CD4SG came as a ray of hope, offering a cost-effective solution to

“Their infectious energy, coupled with invaluable creative insights, infused a renewed vigour into our aspirations.”

refresh its image and craft a compelling narrative, particularly appealing to a younger audience.

“The experience with the students was nothing short of phenomenal. Shared Loveys.

She further added that the best part of the program was a photoshoot! “The program’s highlight for me was a transformative photo shoot experience, where nine individuals from diverse backgrounds, supported by PCL, were photographed. These pictures will grace the organization’s new banners and marketing materials.”

Loveys shed light on some of the deliverables received and said, “The array of offerings from

the program surpassed my expectations. From professional photographs showcasing diversity to a revamped agency logo, every aspect reflected the dedication and collaborative spirit of the students and creative professionals involved.”

As the journey culminated in a thrilling pitch at Google, PCL found themselves astounded by the exceptional work. The students had met and exceeded expectations, crafting an inspiring narrative through proposed banners, logo redesigns, and captivating marketing materials.

With a revitalized brand, PCL is excited to see its impact on the communities it serves!

55 54 Capacity Canada 2023 | Conestoga College

Kids Help Phone Gets A Marketing Campaign!

As an organization dedicated to supporting young people’s mental health and well-being, Kids Help Phone (KHP) is always seeking innovative ways to meet youth where they are. So, when they heard about Creative Day For Social Good (CD4SG), they knew it would be a great opportunity.

“We were drawn to CD4SG because it allows us to engage with talented individuals from diverse backgrounds, leveraging their creativity to generate solutions that positively impact society. By participating in CD4SG, we aimed to foster meaningful connections, inspire innovative thinking, and ultimately, make a difference in the lives of young people across Canada,” stated Ilmie

Dharmaratna, Director of Content Development, KHP.

The primary goal of being part of CD4SG was to collaborate with students from Conestoga College to expand the organization’s impact and reach in supporting youth mental health and well-being.

At KHP, one of the goals is to ensure that the voices of young people are not just heard but indeed amplified in their initiatives and programs. KHP recognizes that youth are often the experts in their own experiences and understand the unique challenges they face better than anyone else. “CD4SG provided us with a dynamic platform

“By participating in CD4SG, we aimed to foster meaningful connections, inspire innovative thinking, and ultimately, make a difference in the lives of young people across Canada.”

to collaborate directly with young people in innovative ways. By bringing together a diverse group of youth participants, CD4SG facilitated a creative space where their voices could not only be heard but actively incorporated into the development of content,” Ilmie added.

Through collaborative brainstorming sessions and creative workshops, a range of promotional assets were created that were tailored to KHP’s recently launched Feel Out Loud Community Creator Space program. These assets encompassed a variety of social media carousel posts, static posts, and short videos.

“CD4SG not only met but exceeded our expectations. The event provided a dynamic environment for ideation and collaboration, resulting in the development of innovative approaches to support youth mental health and well-being,” Ilmie reflected.

KHP is Canada’s only 24/7, free, multilingual, confidential e-mental health service offering young people support and a space to Feel Out Loud. Since 1989, KHP has unlocked hope for youth to explore their identity and navigate life in an increasingly complex world.

57 56 Capacity Canada 2023 | Conestoga College

With over 170,000 charitable and non-profit organizations in Canada, and new responsibilities to learn in a governance position, finding the right board and learning how to fulfill a director’s role can be daunting. Capacity Canada’s MatchBoard program is a coaching and matching program that pairs employees with non-profit boards.

Boards that align with the passions, personalities, and professional skills of corporate employees are identified. At the same time, Capacity Canada Executives-in-Residence build employees’ capacity, through individual and group mentoring, to serve in governance roles.

Since 2012, we have worked with Canada’s top companies including Manulife, TD Bank, AECON, ENBRIDGE, EY, Sunlife, Google, and Scotiabank.

Worked with We average a

1000+ Employees

73% Success rate

In finding a match to a non-profit board of directors. Capacity Canada has a large network and strong relationships with organizations across Canada

59 58 Capacity Canada 2023 | MatchBoard

MatchBoard Featured Story

Aoife Sheahan, Associate Vice President, Human Resources, Retail Transformation at TD, had connected several of her business leaders to the MatchBoard program offered by Capacity Canada as part of her role. Reflecting on her development and what she needed to round herself out in her career, she knew MatchBoard could help her identify the right opportunity that aligned with her interests and values.

Aoife joined the MatchBoard program in Spring 2020 and was soon after matched with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). The organization has a presence in more than 330 communities across all Canadian provinces and one territory. The CMHA provides advocacy programs and resources that help prevent mental health problems and illnesses, support recovery and resilience, and enable all Canadians to flourish and thrive.

MatchBoard, a Capacity Canada partnership with TD Bank Group, links TD executives with volunteer opportunities on the boards of charitable non-profits that match their skills and interests. This program is part of TD’s Community Leadership approach for employees through the TD Ready Commitment, their global corporate citizenship platform, where colleagues can build their own skillsets and experiences while adding capacity to community organizations.

Over the past few years, Aoife has volunteered with various organizations working on issues related to homelessness and mental health, a cause that’s close

“I saw it as an opportunity to give back to my community.”

to her heart. Aoife wanted to ensure she worked with an organization where she could use her skills and experience to support this cause. “I saw it as an opportunity to give back to my community. It also meant developing my leadership and strategic capabilities while working on causes that I am passionate about,” says Aoife.

Comprehensive training and one-on-one sessions are critical to MatchBoard’s success. Once matched with the organization of their interest, participants are encouraged to be part of the governance training to prepare them for their role. “I was coached on interviewing, guided on the organizations that would best align to my capabilities, and was also given a deep grounding on the function of boards and the expectation of their members. My experience with MatchBoard helped me to acclimatize to the non-profit environment and to apply to boards,” adds Aoife. Aoife is grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of the MatchBoard program through TD and encourages TD employees to take advantage of it. She also recommends people do it when they are ready and have enough time in their personal and professional lives to really contribute. “It brings another dimension to your leadership skills – an opportunity I don’t feel I would have had in my day job.”

61 60 Capacity Canada 2023 | MatchBoard

Elena Flom MatchBoard Featured Story

Elena Flom, Senior Vice President, Corporate Initiatives, TD Elena Flom wanted to use her expertise on a local non-profit board but constantly wondered where to begin. When her colleague and Human Resources partner referred her to the MatchBoard program, Elena knew she had found the missing piece of the puzzle!

Elena, Senior Vice President, Corporate Initiatives, TD, joined the MatchBoard program in the spring of 2020. Given her skills and expertise, it wasn’t long before she was matched with the Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women (EHCW), Toronto. The EHCW focuses on supporting women in the community but is not limited to helping women. People and families of all ages and backgrounds are welcome. The organization believes that strong women equal strong communities.

MatchBoard, a Capacity Canada partnership with TD Bank Group, links TD executives with volunteer opportunities on the boards of charitable non-profits. As part of the program, Capacity Canada executives find the non-profit board that best aligns with the employee’s skills, experience, and passion. The employee and the board are then introduced to each other, and Capacity Canada coaches the employee through the process of applying to the board.

“The sessions were informative and made the whole process so much easier.”

This program is part of TD’s Community Leadership approach for employees through the TD Ready Commitment, their global corporate citizenship platform, where colleagues have the opportunity to build their skillsets and experiences while adding capacity to community organizations.

“I was partnered with Don McDermott from Capacity Canada. He understood both my personal and volunteer experience and took into consideration my passion. We had several discussions surrounding my area of interest,” says Elena, who appreciates the one-on-one time and support she received during the program. Comprehensive training and one-on-one sessions are critical to MatchBoard’s success.

Once matched with the organization of their interest, participants are encouraged to be part of the governance training to prepare them for their role. “The sessions were informative and made the whole process so much easier,” Elena adds.

Elena says her experience with MatchBoard has been phenomenal, and she encourages her colleagues at TD to participate. “Because of the positive experience I have had, I recommended the MatchBoard program to one of my colleagues.”

63 62 Capacity Canada 2023 | MatchBoard

The Modern Board program, a board governance micro-credential program offered by Capacity Canada in partnership with Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, is designed to provide you with the skills and knowledge needed to update your strategies and effectively tackle the responsibilities of serving on a non-profit board. This program is focused

on offering the necessary training and resources to guide non-profit boards towards achieving a positive impact in their community. Participants will acquire essential tools and techniques to become valuable members of a non-profit board through engaging video lectures, discussions, reflections, and case studies.

Since Spring 2020

We have had the following number of students take the courses

Essentials Course Advanced Course

390 Individuals

118 Individuals

For A Grand Total Of A Grand Total Of

508 Individuals

Micro-credential is awarded to those who complete both courses and in total we have had

118 Individuals

65 64 Capacity Canada 2023 | ModernBoard

ModernBoard Strengthens Governance

Sharon Gilroy-Dreher, a senior HR Business Partner and Certified Leadership Coach, joined Capacity Canada’s Advanced Modern Board Course to leverage her passion for community building and leadership, and to enhance her board governance skills.

Having participated in Capacity Canada’s informative lunch and learns in the past, Sharon recognized the value of their content and saw the board governance program as a vital professional development tool. She envisioned an interactive learning experience, suggesting live round table discussions and breakout rooms to engage participants in real-world case studies, fostering peer collaboration and skill application.

Throughout the course, Sharon appreciated the wealth of resources provided, from checklists and tool kits to articles and guidelines, enriching her learning experience. “I believe all board members, regardless of experience level, would benefit from the course,” she stated. “Strengthened governance and strategic planning will empower board members to engage in generative thinking, fostering collaboration and partnerships to meet the diverse needs of their communities.”

“I believe all board members, regardless of experience level, would benefit from the course.”

Drawing from her extensive community volunteer experience, including patient advocacy work following a rare stroke in 2015, Sharon brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her board governance journey. As the founder of ToastyToes Waterloo Region, recognized with the 2023

Greater KW Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award, Sharon exemplifies dedication to community service and leadership excellence.

In recommending the program to aspiring and current board members alike, Sharon says, “There is immense potential in the course to foster educated, empowered, and engaged directors committed to driving positive change within their organizations and communities.”

67 66 Capacity Canada 2023 | ModernBoard

PR Student Experience

69 68 Capacity Canada 2023 | PR Student Experience

Conestoga Students

Help Non-Profits Change Their Communities

“Students receive mentorship and support from Paula and me throughout the process.”

In the field of Public Relations, hands-on experience and an excellent professional portfolio are invaluable assets for aspiring students.

Recognizing this need, Capacity Canada has forged a meaningful partnership with Conestoga College to provide Bachelor of Public Relations students with real-world opportunities to hone their skills while making a difference in their communities.

Through this partnership, 27 non-profit organizations across Ontario have been supported by third-year students eager to make their mark. The collaboration starts with Creative Day for

Social Good, an event where Alison Beveridge from Capacity Canada and Paula Barrett from Conestoga College reach out to potential organizations. This year, the Guelph Food Bank and Guelph General Hospital were among the selected beneficiaries.

Central to this partnership is the Student PR Agency Experience, a cornerstone of the Public Relations Consulting course. Unlike traditional coursework, this experience offers students a platform to apply their theoretical knowledge in real-world scenarios. From crafting communication strategies to executing PR campaigns, students are

tasked with providing effective PR advice to their assigned non-profit clients.

Divided into smaller groups and forming agencies with distinct branding, students embark on a semester-long journey of collaboration and creativity. As they engage with actual clients, they refine their consulting skills and cultivate meaningful connections that may pave the way for future career opportunities.

The Student PR Agency Experience fosters a dynamic learning environment where students

actively engage in hands-on projects and reflective discussions. “Students receive mentorship and support from Paula and me throughout the process,” says Alison.

While students gain practical experience and build their portfolios, social good organizations receive invaluable design, communication, and marketing materials, all at no cost. As the next generation of PR leaders, these students are not only enhancing their skills but also making a meaningful impact in their communities through their commitment to social good.

71 70 Capacity Canada 2023 | PR Student Experience
73 72 Capacity Canada 2023 | Gen Z on Board
Gen Z On Boards

Bridging The Gap: Gen Z on Boards Addresses Youth Underrepresentation

During our work on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), Capacity Canada discovered a growing gap within non-profit boards and the communities they served that needed to be addressed immediately! While our research showed that non-profit boards still have a long way to go in achieving diversity, one particular section of the community was highly underrepresented.

Despite comprising 22% of Waterloo Region’s population, young individuals are notably underrepresented on various boards. Statistics Canada revealed a stark contrast: while 65.8% of local non-profit organizations cater to youth, the median age of board members typically ranges between 50 and 54.

The Gen Z on Boards project, funded by the Astley Family Foundation, was created to bridge the growing gap. The project aims to offer training, mentoring, coaching, and aligning youth with boards that align with their interests and directly impact the community. By integrating youth onto boards, they can offer invaluable perspectives to address the issues that deeply concern them. Simultaneously, organizations focused on youth services will gain enhanced tools and skills.

“I hope non-profit organizations gain a deeper understanding of the generational shift that will take place on boards and an enthusiasm to engage and hire Gen Z board members,” says Erika Hornsey, Capacity Canada’s Executive-In-Residence.

“My goal is to empower other young adults, so they have the leadership skills and knowledge to be part of a non-profit board.”

By involving youth in governance training, the project aims to imbue solutions with a youthcentered lens, particularly in governance approaches and frameworks. This approach will empower youth and boards to collaborate confidently, working collectively to address the pressing issues that resonate within their community.

Fatima Awan, who has been involved in the Gen Z on Boards project and advocacy and outreach work, says her work is a way of giving back to the community. “My goal is to empower other young adults, so they have the leadership skills and knowledge to be part of a non-profit board. Gen Z

on boards can bring transformative change, which is imperative.”

The project’s objective is to ensure youth feel a sense of belonging to their community while enhancing their career prospects. “Youth involvement in governance training will help frame solutions through a youth-centered lens. Additionally, participants continue expanding their connections and creating a more extensive network of like-minded individuals,” says Cathy Brothers, Capacity Canada CEO.

Between 2023 and 2025, 10 participants from diverse backgrounds will be selected annually to participate in the project.

75 74 Capacity Canada 2023 | Gen Z on Board
Allen Mathew Joseph Gen Z On Boards

Stepping Into The World of Board Governance

Allen Mathew Joseph, a recent graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Mahatma Gandhi University in Kerala, India, was on an exciting journey in Kitchener, Ontario. He was pursuing a Strategic Global Business Management program at Conestoga College, and little did he know that this academic endeavour would lead him to an extraordinary opportunity.

“I heard about the Gen Z on Boards program through the Conestoga College website. The idea of gaining experience in board governance and understanding how non-profits operate piqued my interest. I wanted to connect with like-minded individuals and expand my professional network,” said Allen.

He had a clear set of goals as he applied to the program. Allen’s particular interest lies in exploring how non-profits could contribute to achieving social and environmental goals.

“I would highly recommend the Gen Z program to anyone interested in gaining experience in board governance.”

Allen has big plans. He is determined to continue volunteering with non-profit organizations, leveraging his skills to impact the community positively. Additionally, he has his sights set on a career in the non-profit sector, with a strong commitment to contributing meaningfully to the community.

“I would highly recommend the Gen Z program to anyone interested in gaining experience in board governance. The program provides valuable training and networking opportunities that can help participants achieve their goals.”

77 76 Capacity Canada 2023 | Gen Z on Board

Gen Z On Boards

A Catalyst For Change

Ana Zavalza Ramirez, a second-year student pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering, is the spirit of youth leadership and community engagement. Originally from Mexico, Ana relocated to Canada five years ago, where she discovered her passion for working with newcomer youth and making a positive impact in her community.

Ana learned about the Gen Z project while volunteering with another organization - KW Multicultural Centre. Drawn to Capacity Canada’s mission of fostering social innovation and empowering youth, Ana eagerly joined the Gen Z Project in June 2023.

In December, she assumed a role on the board for the Business and Education Partnership of Waterloo Region, further solidifying her commitment to driving positive change in her community.

Reflecting on her experiences with Capacity Canada, Ana expressed profound gratitude for the transformative impact of the organization’s initiatives. “Capacity Canada has provided invaluable mentorship, learning experiences, and networking opportunities that have enriched my personal and professional journey.”

“Capacity Canada is pushing through barriers to ensure meaningful development opportunities for young people like myself.”

Ana recognizes the significance of her involvement, particularly in a board space where youth representation is often lacking. “Capacity Canada is pushing through barriers to ensure meaningful development opportunities for young people like myself.”

As Ana continues to grow and thrive as a youth leader, she remains deeply grateful for the guidance and support she has received from her mentors at Capacity Canada. With her unwavering commitment to making a difference and dedication to fostering positive change, Ana Zavalza Ramirez embodies the transformative potential of youth leadership in driving social innovation and community development.

79 78 Capacity Canada 2023 | Gen Z on Board

Empowering Youth With Financial And Business Literacy

With a background in accounting and finance, Ben Van Wart is on a mission to leverage his skills and knowledge to make a meaningful impact on his community. Born and raised in Mississauga, Ben’s journey has been shaped by his passion for business and a deep commitment to giving back.

Ben pursued his undergraduate degree in Accounting and Finance from the University of Waterloo. With a keen interest in financial matters and business operations, he continued his academic journey to earn a master’s in accounting.

Ben’s path to the Gen Z on Boards program was illuminated by a dedicated professor during his master’s program. Ben’s professor recognized his potential and introduced him to the program, which focused on sustainability and outreach—a perfect fit for his aspirations.

“For the last couple of years, I have been planning to join a board when I graduate, but I was unsure how to do so. When I saw the Gen Z on Boards program, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to foster my skills and help me achieve my goal,” says Ben.

Ben Van Wart

Gen Z On Boards

“I think I will make a difference in financial and business literacy.”

Through the Gen Z on Boards program, Ben hopes to achieve multiple objectives. “By the end of the program, I hope to not only be placed on a board but to have also refined my governance knowledge and soft skills that will make me a valuable board member.”

Ben has a clear vision of the impact he wants to make in the community. “I think I will make a difference in financial and business literacy,” he said. He added that many young people lacked the opportunity to develop crucial skills in these areas, and he was determined to change that. Ben aspires to create programs to deliver these opportunities to the youth, empowering them with essential life skills.

“The world of non-profit governance can be very intimidating to those who have never experienced it, and the Gen Z on Boards is a great program that will help young people develop skills and provide them with guidance. I hope this initiative will bring the younger generation into the world of nonprofit governance.”

81 80 Capacity Canada 2023 | Gen Z on Board

Driving Positive Change

Niveditha Kani is a shining example of the next generation of leaders emerging from the intersection of business and technology. As a business and computer science graduate working at Google, Niveditha’s journey with the Gen Z on Boards project began with a simple scroll through Instagram, where she stumbled upon an opportunity to make a meaningful impact in her community.

“I thought it was a way I could give back to the community,” reflects Niveditha, highlighting her initial motivation to join the project. For her, the project represented a pivotal next step in her leadership journey, offering her the chance to be more involved in decision-making positions and contribute her unique perspective to boardrooms.

Despite initial reservations, Niveditha embraced the opportunity with enthusiasm, recognizing the value of gaining actionable skills and insights into the boardroom dynamics. “I never thought it was a possibility, but I am happy to have had this opportunity,” she shares, reflecting on her journey of growth and self-discovery through the project.

Niveditha Kani

Gen Z On Boards

“People I have met so far are from different boards and organizations, and it’s good to network and build relationships.”

The Gen Z on Boards project provided Niveditha with a platform to acquire actionable skills, navigate the application process for board positions, and even participate in mock interviews—a comprehensive toolkit tailored to empower the next generation of board leaders.

Moreover, the project facilitated invaluable networking opportunities, allowing Niveditha to connect with fellow participants and board members from various organizations. “People I have met so far are from different boards and organizations, and it’s good to network and build relationships,” remarks Niveditha, highlighting the importance of fostering connections and building collaborative partnerships in the professional landscape.

Through her journey, Niveditha exemplifies the potential of Gen Z leaders to drive positive change and shape the future of governance and decisionmaking. With her newfound skills and experiences, she is poised to make a lasting impact not only within boardrooms but also in her broader community.

83 82 Capacity Canada 2023 | Gen Z on Board

A Powerhouse!

A driven and passionate individual, Tanner Bergsma embarked on a transformative journey through the Gen Z on Boards program. His commitment to community service and aspiration to effect meaningful change led him to embrace this opportunity wholeheartedly.

“When I first heard about the Gen Z on Boards program through Wilfrid Laurier University, I knew it aligned perfectly with my passion for contributing to meaningful causes,” Tanner shared, emphasizing his deep-seated desire to make a difference in society. Having lived through difficult circumstances at a very young age, Tanner has a profound desire to support non-profit organizations, particularly those working in the areas of affordable housing, homelessness, and mental health. At 21, he has already started his non-profit organization—One Voice Changemakers Alliance—with the idea of teaching individuals at a younger age to be changemakers.

“I hope to acquire a wealth of knowledge and skills that will enable me to support not just mine but also other non-profits effectively,” he expressed, highlighting his ambition to use this experience to champion fundraising efforts, organize impactful events, and advocate for those in need.

“I hope to acquire a wealth of knowledge and skills that will enable me to support not just mine but also other non-profits effectively.”

Tanner’s experience with the Gen Z on Boards program has been immensely enriching. The MatchBoard platform provided invaluable connections, aligning him with individuals who share his commitment to community service. The Modern Board Essentials course broadened his perspective and equipped him with indispensable insights into the responsibilities of a board member.

“It has been an inspiring journey, and I am eager to continue learning and growing as a board member. I am excited about the prospects of making a meaningful contribution to society and fostering positive change in the community.”

85 84 Capacity Canada 2023 | Gen Z on Board
Tanner Bergsma Gen Z On Boards

A special thanks goes out to all our funders!

Audited Statement Of Operations And Change In Net Assets

December 31 2023

87 86 Capacity Canada 2023 | Financials
INCOME 2023 2022 Grants $705,440 638,214 Fee for Service 482,924 417,195 Donations 174,655 184,397 Interest income 26,350 11,139 1,389,369 1,250,945 EXPENSES Salaries and benefits 545,727 501,237 Contracted services 478,708 343,441 Educational events 101,406 106,712 Administration 30,415 28,250 Technology 46,742 47,024 Marketing and promotion 23,693 7,064 Professional fees 20,258 16,680 Gifts to other charities 0 8,000 Meetings and conferences 51,247 46,511 Amortization of property and equipment 1,702 1,825 1,299,898 1,106,744
For The Year
Excess of income over expenses 89,471 144,201 Net Assets - beginning of the year 514,497 370,296 Net Assets - end of the year $603,968 $514,497

Cathy Brothers


Andrew Wilding Director of Operations

Alison Beveridge Director of Public Relations

Nasreen Director of Communications

Fableeha Choudhury Project Coodination and Communication Lead

Fatima Awan Project Assistant

Lisa Allen

Megan Conway

Ruth Cruikshank

Steve Farlow

Dianne Fehr

Fred Galloway

Janine Giovinazzo

Our Team

Liz Dennis

Hugh Munro

Conestoga College Design Students

Theo Johannes

Malu Rocha Executives in Residence Designers in Residence

Scott Haldane

Sandra Hanmer

Erika Hornsey

Andrew Jardine

Bob King

Jennifer King

Kelly Laurila

Ian MacDonald

Randa MacNaughton

Don McDermott

Joanne McKiernan

Matt Miller

Bob Nieboer

Lori Payne

Susan Radwan

Graham Roe

Lyn Royce

Stephen Swatridge

Marion Thomson Howell

Jennifer Vasic

Bryan Webber

Paul Wilton

89 88 Capacity Canada 2023 | Our Team


20 Crestview Place

Kitchener, ON N2B 0A2

Charity # 81658 9287 RR0001

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