150 Profiles: Jessica Wroblewski

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: Jessica Wroblewski

Current role in the sector: Manager, Major Gifts & Planned Giving at the YWCA Kitchener-Waterloo

Years working and/or volunteering in the nonprofit sector: Seven years working and 17 years volunteering.

What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
My defining moment thus far was being selected as one of the first AFP Outstanding Young Professionals. I was even more excited when a mentor and friend pointed out that I was the only Canadian to win. The whole experience has been very validating for me. Although receiving the award onstage at the AFP International Fundraising Conference in front of 3,000+ fundraisers was amazing, the best thing about winning by far has been hearing from so many supportive colleagues and former coworkers who know how hard I have worked and are happy for my success. That’s better than any award.

Describe your desk/workspace.
I’m a fan of the minimalist aesthetic but I have a bad tendency to hold onto things. My desk is best described as organized chaos. I keep anything I haven’t dealt with in piles on my desk. Once I’ve dealt with something, I file it away in my desk drawer. My email inboxes are much the same. I’ve been too busy to decorate my office in the past 8 weeks but I’m hoping to change that soon. On the plus side, I have my own office and can close the door anytime I need a bit of silence or some privacy.

What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector? 
In 2013, I watched Dan Pallotta’s now famous TED Talk The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong. A year later, when I was a student in Ryerson University’s Fundraising Management certificate program, I read a book called Uncharitable: How Restraints on Nonprofits Undermine Their Potential by Dan Pallotta. What impressed me about Dan Pallotta was that he spelled out how the way we think about charity actually undermines the non-profit sector. Dan Pallotta said what no one else in the non-profit sector had the guts to say. We should all be grateful to him for the debate about overhead he has sparked.

What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
The most important issue the non-profit sector needs to think about is the disproportionate male representation at the senior and leadership level. As a young non-profit professional, it’s extremely disheartening to look up and see that although most non-profit employees are women, most senior and leadership level positions—especially at large charities—are filled by men. Something is intrinsically wrong with that. Another important issue is non-profit compensation. Not only should all of us be paid a living wage but we should be paid a good wage. We’re professionals, not martyrs.

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


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