As a way to mark the 150th anniversary of confederation, The Philanthropist profiled Canadians from across the non-profit sector and put a face to 150 individuals who work or volunteer in Canada’s social sector. As 2017 drew to a close, we published our final profile of 2017 — reaching our target of speaking with 150 people! The Philanthropist recognizes that Canada’s history did not begin 150 years ago. And it will continue beyond 150 years. In this spirit, we will continue to profile people in the non-profit sector throughout 2018.
Name: June Webber
Current role in the sector: Vice President, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Head of Coady International Institute and StFX Extension Department.
Years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector: I’ve worked in the non-profit sector for most of my adult life with a focus on health, community, and international policy and development.
What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
My time living and working in sub-Saharan Africa in the ‘90s was key. One defining moment was in South Africa during that period. I worked as a scholar, researcher, and volunteer with health professionals mandated by Nelson Mandela to unify health professional organizations fragmented during apartheid. Mandela recognized the health system would need greater coherence to be accessible to all in a post-apartheid South Africa. The experience opened my eyes to the remarkable resolve people leading change had for collaboration and identifying solutions across the region, and inspired 12 remarkable years in South Africa.
Describe your desk/workspace.
Coady Institute’s workspaces are great! They are open, naturally lit environments highly conducive to the work we do within learning and meeting environments, not to mention desk work. My office is filled with bookcases and pictures taken throughout the course of my work in the Horn of Africa years ago along with several pieces by local artists, including an amazing mural developed by last year’s global youth interns depicting their community leadership development learning journey. It all sets a grounding and inspiring tone for the work I do.
What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?
I follow Twitter and online journals daily to stay abreast of sector, social, and political developments. There’s an ever growing pile of (at times, unfinished) books and manuscripts next to my bed with so little time to do them justice! Recently, I’ve been reading on emancipatory adult education, citizen-led social change, reconciliation, and contemporary issues related to globalization, civil society, and philanthropy.
What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
Collaboration and partnership! I’m very encouraged by the number of organizations and leaders who are actively searching out intentional and sometimes unlikely partnerships to achieve strong results. Collaboration really is at the heart of things for any institute, like Coady, focused on education and accompaniment of leaders committed to community resilience and social change.