Canada 150 Profiles: Camara Chambers

As part of our celebration of Canada’s 150th, The Philanthropist is profiling Canadians from across the non-profit sector and putting a face to 150 individuals who work or volunteer in Canada’s social sector. 

Camara Chambers profile picture

Name: Camara Chambers

Current role in the sector: Director of Community Engagement, Volunteer Toronto

Years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector:  Eight years working, 14 years volunteering

What was your first job in the sector or your defining moment?

I started my non-profit career working for Europe’s largest gay equality charity. Despite identifying as heterosexual, I had noticed from a young age how prevalent homophobia was in Britain (my home country) and was thrilled when I had the opportunity to join Stonewall, a very successful advocacy organization based in London. I joined the team supporting the organization’s parliamentary, research and education work, but was quickly promoted to coordinate one of their flagship programs – an advisory program for local government providing guidance on how to eliminate homophobia in local schools. The role was incredibly rewarding and I learned a great deal during my time at Stonewall.

Describe your desk/workspace.

I love inspirational quotes, so I have a few pinned on a cork board in my office as a daily reminder to think big and be positive. I work from a desk that can be sat at like a traditional desk or be raised so you can stand as you work. I tend to stand for some of the day and sit for the other half. You’ll always find food in my office as a I’m a bit of a snack lover, so I tend to have healthy nibbles like nuts, apples, and protein bars within arm’s reach!

What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?

I’m a fan of learning and I am fascinated by people. I currently manage a team of five staff, and I am always reading up on best practices on management and leadership, and thinking about how they can be applied to a small non-profit. I have just finished reading The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman, an insightful book that encourages leaders to recognize how their employees prefer to be appreciated. On a day-to-day basis, I find Imagine Canada’s Nonprofit Newswire emails to be a great way to keep up-to-date with new trends and ideas about the sector.

What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?

The sector needs to be thinking about future challenges and opportunities that may present themselves over the next decade. For example, volunteers nowadays want more flexibility and ownership of how they give their time. How are we preparing for that? How can we demonstrate our relevancy when the average Joe is increasingly concerned about our “admin costs”? What opportunities will technology present to allow our work to be more efficient? It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day challenges of running a non-profit, but we need to spend time preparing ourselves for inevitable changes in the sector.

Do you know someone we should profile as part of this series? Email us at philanthropistprofiles@gmail.com

Camara Chambers is Director of Community Engagement, Volunteer Toronto. She is an active volunteer in the community, advising strategy and development for Shape My City (Toronto's network of city building initiatives), assisting in the execution of local community events, and leading hikes across southern Ontario.

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