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: Jeff Dyer
Current role in the sector: CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Calgary
What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
I first realized I needed to find a profession that allowed me to work with kids when I was serving as the climbing wall instructor at a camp, spending my day cheering kids beyond their fears and limits towards their goals. The days were extremely long, the pay was astonishingly insignificant and yet I never felt like I was really working. I felt like I was coming alive, helping kids reach their potential and then falling into bed each night with complete satisfaction. I knew then what I know now: that if you find work that makes you come alive and helps others do the same, then you have to do that work and it will no longer be work—it will be life.
Describe your desk/workspace.
As a parent, marathoner and CEO my workspace is my phone, the coffee shop and the kitchen table. I do have an office and it is tidy because I need a certain level of order and the space has pictures that remind me of those I love and who I am, but my office is wherever I am. It is just as likely for me to tend to emails while sipping my morning coffee in the quiet of home, or on the stationary bike at the gym or while waiting to pick my kids up from soccer. I suspect this makes me more empathetic to our younger team members because we share the value of flexibility while also working to move us a step or two closer to the world we imagine at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Calgary.
What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?
I read widely but I feel as though I am in a season where I am discovering more through the interactions I am having with people at all levels within our organization. In this first year as our team’s CEO I am making my way across our many service delivery centres, meeting every team member and continuously surprising my teammates by showing up. It is these interactions that are serving to expand my view, becoming increasingly aware of the profoundly challenging work my colleagues do in support of vulnerable kids, youth and their families.
What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
I think that this is a transitional time in the life of our sector. We are transitioning from generational, founder leaders who often grew up alongside their organizations to emerging leaders. We are also transferring frontline roles to the next generation that has different ways of seeing the world. As a result, leaders need to navigate multiple generations respectfully while creating an environment for both to thrive. Our sector is ideally suited to face this transition because we can find common ground on the most basic but deeply rooted human values of kindness, generosity, justice, mercy and love. We have to be good translators as leaders, capable of helping people from across the generations understand one another through values and not fear one another because those values are expressed differently.
Do you know someone we should profile as part of this series? Email us at [email protected]
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