150 Profiles: Nicole Gagliardi

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: Nicole Gagliardi

Current role in the sector: Program Coordinator at Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough; Volunteer Board Director at YWCA Peterborough Haliburton

Years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector: 15 years

What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
Joining the Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough in 2014 was a career defining move for me.  Up until that point, most of my work and research had been very grassroots and focused on frontline community work.  At the time, I wasn’t sure working in a foundation was the right move for me–I didn’t know a thing about the philanthropic sector!  But my role at the Community Foundation allows me to keep a local focus while tapping into my skills in strategy and communications.  It’s been a great environment to learn and grow as a professional.

Describe your desk/workspace.
I do my best work with pen to paper so my desk is always covered with lined notepads, a rainbow of sticky notes and folders stuffed with snippets of ideas, inspiration and works-in-progress.  My workspace is shared so I benefit from a generous stream of input and advice from my colleague as I volley questions and ideas over our cubicle wall.  But the best part of my office is a large east-facing window that overlooks downtown Peterborough and the Otonabee River. I spend a lot of time working on the window ledge, which doubles as the non-profit version of a standing desk.

What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?
I’ve just started Denying to the grave: Why we ignore the facts that will save us, which examines the psychology behind science denial. It’s a pretty interesting read on how we think and talk about complex topics, form opinions and create or change behaviours. In the sector, it’s too easy to base our work on the assumption that “if people only knew this fact or that statistic, things would change”.  I’m always interested in learning how to find compelling and meaningful ways of talking about the changes we’re trying to create, and I look for insight in a breadth of fields.

What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
I’ve been giving some thought lately to the challenges and opportunities for non-profits in smaller and remote communities. I work in Peterborough, which is a mid-sized city not too far from Toronto and Ottawa, but even in the digital age it can feel as though we’re pretty cut off from ‘national’ or regional dialogues and trends.  It’s a challenge to access training opportunities, or connect to funders and networks.  On the other hand, we benefit from dense networks and deep connections to community.  I imagine other communities encounter similar issues, and I’m interested in understanding how that impacts our work.

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


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