150 Profiles: Leslie Cheung

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: Leslie Cheung

Current role in the sector: Partnership Development Director at Powered by Data, a project of Tides Canada

Years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector:  16 years.

What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
My first job in the sector was an unpaid social work internship at the Immigrant Workers’ Centre in Montreal.  As part of this internship, I worked with an associated women’s group for Filipino live-in caregivers called Pinay. This placement taught me the importance of working in a participatory manner where beneficiaries are part of the process, whether it is research, service delivery, advocacy, or policy making. This internship kicked-off a career in immigration and race relations in Canada which has taken me from grassroots-level community organizations, to a policy shop in the public service, to academia, and now into a cross-sectoral job in a non-profit.

Describe your desk/workspace.
I’m a chronic list-maker, meaning that my desk in our open-concept office is filled with scrap paper with lists for the day, week, month, and more long-term.  I am moving many of my lists online, but good-old pen and paper is still the most satisfying when crossing off a completed task.  Otherwise, I only need a laptop and a power source.  I like to have a variety of ways of working as well—supportive chair and desk, standing desks, and couches or comfy chairs.  I like options.

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

There is never enough time to read everything, but Twitter is a great way for me to figure out what the trends are and what people are talking about in the sector.  Some favourites: @CEPData; @SSIReview; @NPCthinks; @Phil_journal; @Glasspockets; @GEOfunders; @canadiancharity; @HistPhil; @TheGovLab

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

At Powered by Data, one of the issues we are focused on is accessing government administrative data. What are the opportunities available to the social sector to access impactful administrative data that is systematically shared across sectors and through all jurisdictions?  We understand that this is not an easy feat, but neither is it impossible. In Canada, accessing and effectively using administrative data will require legislative changes, infrastructure, and increased non-profit capacity.

On a more personal level, in the non-profit sector, the lack of representation of people of colour and Indigenous people, particularly in leadership positions, remains a “visible” issue.  I’m interested in the non-profit sector turning the mirror on itself in order to address the systemic inequalities that are prominent in our workplaces and society at large.

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


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