150 Profiles: Debbie McInnis

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: Debbie McInnis

Current role in the sector: Executive Director United Way of Greater Moncton and Southeastern New Brunswick

Years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector: 18 years.

What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
My first job in this sector was with Laubach Literacy New Brunswick, which is an organization that helps adults improve their basic reading, writing and math skills. I thoroughly enjoyed this job but wanted to broaden the scope of my activities. Working in this sector you soon realize that solving complex social issues will take a multi-pronged approach. I wanted to be able to work in partnership with community agencies, government and the private sector to find solutions for our most pressing issues. It will take a concentrated, collective effort to move the needle on our most complex issues, but I absolutely believe it is possible.

Describe your desk/workspace.
My office has lots of windows, which is fantastic. My desk is messy, lots of paper as I haven’t mastered a paperless way of working. I have the expected laptop, monitor and telephone but also lots of books, inspirational quotes and pictures.

What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?
United Way Impact; United Way Worldwide’s daily enews; Tamarack Institute; Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.

Meeting with people in our community who are thoughtful, thought provoking and push me to think differently.

I just finished reading Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. Although this book is about the unexpected death of Sheryl’s husband and how she found her way forward I found much of it transferable to everyday life. Sheryl and Adam’s thoughts on building resiliency were insightful and relatable to building resiliency both personally and within community, which was not something I had expected when I picked up this book.

What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
What matters to me is people working together, collective impact to strengthen our community. We truly believe we are stronger together than individually. Having been involved in or observing successful initiatives that have included multiple partners from different sectors I believe we need to promote more collective impact. We need to focus on and ask questions that bring us together to solve problems, look beyond our own agencies and consider what we can do differently to have different outcomes than we have had previously.

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


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