150 Profiles: Julia Sanchez

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: Julia Sanchez

Current role in the sector: President and CEO of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation

Years working and/or volunteering in the nonprofit sector: More than 24 years.

What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
My defining moment was during my first long-term assignment in the field. Freshly equipped with an MA from McGill, I went to Guatemala for the adventure of my life. I had signed up for a two-year volunteer assignment to join a team of mostly Guatemalan staff implementing a reintegration program for refugees from Mexico, towards the end of a long and bloody civil war. I ended up staying five years, going from my volunteer position to Team Leader of the program, and then to Regional Representative for the Montreal-based NGO Centre d’étude et de coopération internationale. Everything I know I learned during that time.

Describe your desk/workspace.
I often work early mornings from my kitchen table, after seeing my son off to school, accompanied by a fresh cup of café au lait. It is not unusual for me to end my days there too, with a glass of wine on occasion. My work entails what seem like endless meetings, so I am often on the move and do not keep regular office hours. But my office is bright, warm and decorated with some souvenirs from Latin America and Asia, where I have lived and worked. Papers that belong in the recycling bin are often spotted there too.

What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?
I spend too much time reading my Twitter feed, which has in many ways replaced my flipping through the papers in the morning or watching the news at night. And through it, I find I have an endless supply of thought-provoking and stimulating reads that help me keep a critical yet constructive approach to the sector at large, and the international development and humanitarian sector in particular. Among my most used sources are: The Guardian, OpenDemocracy, Duncan Green’s blog, and of course The Philanthropist! And as I prepare for the road ahead, I read anything I can on reconciliation too.

What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
At CCIC we constantly reflect on the changing policy environment, in response to the growing complexity and inter-related nature of global challenges, and what the implications are for our sector. Are we fit for purpose? Silos need to be broken. Capacity for multi-disciplinary and comprehensive responses is key. Moving away from an “us and them” framework to a universal understanding of poverty and injustice requires that our sector explore new partnerships and expand its reach. Finally, the imperative for transformative and structural change points us in new directions. It highlights the importance of influencing public policy, at home and abroad.

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


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