150 Profiles: Holly Procktor

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:  Holly Procktor

Current role in the sector: Coordinator, Volunteer Resource Management at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)

Years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector: 21 years! (*gulp*)

What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
I’ve always worked in art galleries, magical places to me, and very close to my heart. A defining moment was joining the Winnipeg Art Gallery as an educator in charge of adult programs. Through that role, I was invited to join the board of MAWA (Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art), an artist-run centre with a progressive mandate. I really came to understand the power of community there. I learned how a group working together toward a common goal could accomplish anything, with a clear mandate, a sense of verve, and the encouragement, support and trust of one another. That’s shaped my approach to work.

Describe your desk/workspace.
As a visual learner, I like everything on display (I rarely use my filing cabinet!). I have a cubicle at the entrance to our HR offices, just up the stairs from our volunteer lounge: a busy, reception-style space, where short conversations and drop-in visits really keep me energized! I’m also an artist, so my walls are papered with drawings and ideas for future projects. I tend to surround myself with inspiration: my daughter’s drawings, family photos, an article on the Folly Cove Designers (a textile collective), and inspirational quotes like “When you look for the good stuff, more good stuff shows up!” and “We learn the most from situations we can’t control.” (Truth!)

What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?
I’m an avid reader of HR Reporter, the Journal of Human Resources Management. They publish timely, relevant advice that can be applied to the volunteer sector, particularly around culture, engagement and wellness. I also value meet-ups in person with colleagues across the sector. Volunteer Toronto provides plenty of opportunities to engage with others through their workshops, and our discussions marry theory with practice, which is key.

What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
Changing demographics. Many volunteer programs tend to be traditionally supported by a (largely) senior base. A pressing concern is balancing the needs of these volunteers while actively attracting new ones. That’s a capacity challenge, to be sure. We need to look at the whole cycle and rethink how we can design meaningful opportunities that best attract and engage the next generation, who require roles that are more flexible, short-term, and episodic. And it’s not just about recruitment. Rewards and recognition tend to be geared towards years of service, but we need to think about how we define commitment and measure success in a diverse and changing community.


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