150 Profiles: Elayne Greeley

As we mark the 150th anniversary of confederation, 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.

Name: Elayne Greeley

Current role in the sector: Partnership Broker and Visual Practitioner with Community, Career & Employment Partnership Project

Years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector:  21 years.

What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
Immediately after university I jumped into coordinating and teaching at the Devon House Pottery Studio. A side project of the Newfoundland & Labrador Craft Council, I learned that there were a 1000 ways to contribute to my community. The more I said yes to helping in the gallery, store, craft fairs, teaching in the schools, the more opportunities I had to learn and lead. The Director Anne Mannuel was fair, measured and cool in the face of conflict and disaster. Because of her leadership I’ve always expected to be treated fairly – what a gift!

Describe your desk/workspace.
My office is 9 x 12′ and is painted a light sea foam green (inspired by my 11 year old daughter). My desk is a 9′ white stand up desk that I assembled from a local building supplies store. The walls currently have: a sketch of the partnering cycle, 6′ visual timelines from my 2 big network projects, and a drawing of Roger Martin’s decision making/responsibility ladder. I have a comfy chair and a little round table for telephone meetings.

What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?
Connecting To Change The World: Harnessing the Power of Networks for Social Impact by Plastrik, Taylor & Cleveland. This book has helped me honour all of my ways of knowing. The case studies and principles gave me the words to express the truly difficult power of dominant work cultures. It’s changed my game.

Responsibility Virus: How control freaks, shrinking violets and the rest of us can harness the power of true partnership by Roger Martin. My friend demanded that I read this book. It was a brutal read because I really needed to understand my part in the cycle of over and under responsibility. Let’s just say that sometimes books come along at the right time. It’s out of print so I had to buy it second hand.

My favourite podcasts right now are The Possibilitarian and On Being. They are very different but essentially the same. I like hearing the stories of the messy work and those who are slogging through. I’m disciplining myself to appreciate all the social warriors who are in process.

What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
What matters to me most right now is how we share information. I’m thinking about it from two directions. One is how we tell others about what we are doing; how we cater to the audience that we know “gets us”. This sector need more communications acumen and that means adding it to our budget lines and attracting talent with matching dollars.

My second communication jam is promoting interactive visuals with individuals and groups. We all have to be more creative in order to bring everyone into our conversations THEN we have to keep them there. All the literacy and neuroscience research tells us that we need to use multiple modalities in order to engage individuals and groups so why aren’t we rocking it? I’m going for it even if I feel like I’m swimming upstream.

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


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