150 Profiles: Lisa Attygalle

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: Lisa Attygalle

Current role in the sector: Director, Engagement at Tamarack Institute

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

What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
My first job in the sector is actually this one! I come to this work by way of a marketing agency where I worked with clients to develop their digital marketing strategies. My education is in communications and psychology and I love the interconnectedness of these two disciplines. Being relatively new to the nonprofit sector, a defining moment for me was when I realized that marketing and engagement are two sides of the same coin. I love that I can apply everything that I have learned in the private sector to help organizations to better engage their communities.

Describe your desk/workspace.
I have a home office in a century home and my office is where the beautiful old things have received a second life. There’s a brick wall that was crumbling as an exterior supporting wall but shines as an interior feature wall, a closed off Juliet balcony is now a built-in bookshelf, and an old door is now my desk. I like to pile papers over on the bookshelf and only keep a few sparse things near me: my to-do list, my notebook and my coffee.

What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?
It’s got to be Getting to Maybe by Frances Westley, Brenda Zimmerman and Michael Patton. I understand this book to be like a textbook for the 101 of community change, although unlike many other textbooks from my studies, I reference this one often. Complexity theory and the understanding of simple vs. complicated vs. complex problems is fundamental to our work, but I think where it shines for me is when the model can be extrapolated to apply to the details of community engagement strategies, from choosing appropriate techniques to evaluating impact.

What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
I’m spending a lot of time lately thinking about trust: how it takes time to establish trust yet how quickly it can be destroyed. We’re seeing a revived energy in the field of community engagement and a surge of people–from organizations to government at all levels–rushing to engage their communities on all topics. What I find so interesting is that this rush can sometimes be a bad thing because engagement done poorly can be worse than not engaging at all.

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


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