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: Debby Warren
Current role in the sector: Executive Director for AIDS Moncton
Years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector: 53 years.
What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
Over the years I’ve walked 30 miles in support of Miles for Millions; been a Boy Scout leader; advocated for persons with disabilities; joined numerous boards; served as a Saint John Ambulance Cadet – to name a few. At the age of thirty-one, I was elected to municipal council. That experience gave me a whole new appreciation of the challenges of governing. Perhaps my experience in a small rural community in Africa devastated by HIV/AIDS was the most defining moment for me. I’ve come to firmly believe that we are collectively responsible to help each other – it does take a village to raise a child. My job as Executive Director of an AIDS organization, allows me to do what I am passionate about – reaching out, supporting and advocating for change for some the most vulnerable people in our community.
Describe your desk/workspace.
My desktop has only the paper/book that I am currently working on – no one is permitted to deposit any paperwork on it except for me. I have a neat in-basket and side table for ongoing project materials. The décor includes memorabilia from Africa and photos of family members and people I’ve connected with over the years through work. My favourite memorabilia is hanging by my desk. It features an African homestead with people doing a variety of everyday tasks. A reminder for me – that it takes a village to raise a child and for that matter, an adult.
What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?
I like to follow social media of local non-profits so that I’m current on the issues they are working to address within our community. I frequent several national websites of organizations working to address issues relating to the opioid crisis, HIV, Hepatitis C, and homelessness – all issues faced by the people we serve. The information I garner from these sites informs the delivery of our programs and services. On top of partnering locally, we are able to benefit from non-profits working across the country.
What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
The non-profit sector needs to be constantly mindful of the people we serve so that we remain focused on our raison d’être. I believe we can best achieve our goals by working in partnership with other organizations. Sharing resources, experiences, and expertise increase our capacity to effect change. We learn to approach whatever issues(s) we are working on from a wider perspective having benefited from our partnering experiences.
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