150 Profiles: Sapna Goel

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: Sapna Goel

Current role in the sector: Communications Consultant, Sharing Dance, Canada’s National Ballet School

Years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector:  12 years.

What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
My work in the area of social issues research and program development in my first job meant that high school kids across the region were learning about the human face of global challenges, something they were mostly unaware of. These same students were then taking on leadership roles to be problem-solvers, including one group that was leading a school-building project in a developing community. Not only did this set some of these students on a path that they may have not otherwise found, but the ripple effects of their choices and actions were being felt in other parts of the world.

Describe your desk/workspace.
Organized chaos! There’s usually a pile of books and papers on my desk, usually items I’m referencing on a regular basis. A cup of coffee is also within reach. I need a big white board as close to my desk as possible because that’s where I do my best big-picture thinking—whether alone or in collaboration with others. I usually don’t have personal knick-knacks on my desk, but my space is always welcoming to anyone. I’d rather get up and go down the hall or upstairs/downstairs for that quick conversation I need to have rather than send an email.

What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?
I read a lot of news and magazine features—New Yorker, the Economist, Globe and Mail, The Atlantic—and will easily follow wherever the headlines take me. I subscribe to Vanity Fair, because I like the writing and the content. But my first love is fiction—literature, classics, popular fiction, short stories, you name it. In the non-profit world, it can be so easy to lose ourselves in our work, and so I stay balanced and grounded by never losing sight of the many other things I am passionate about in my life—literature and the arts being among those.

What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
Engaging young people to think critically is perhaps what I am most focused on. It’s what we, as a sector and as society, need to be thinking about. We’ve already seen the results of fake news saturating online spaces, and people are overwhelmed with opinions, second-by-second updates on every minutia of everything, forcing citizens to sit and consume current events rather than pause to understand and develop their own thoughts and opinions, let alone actively participate in the conversation. This kind of bombardment combined with lack of critical thinking is breeding fear and isolation, making people turn inwards. This is the antithesis of compassion and philanthropy.

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


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