The Skills4Good Spotlight series shines a spotlight on some amazing corporate employees who generously share their time, talent and treasure with nonprofits as they help build resilient communities. We recognize and thank corporations and their employees for their meaningful social impact in strengthening nonprofits who serve our communities.
Shell Canada is a Skills4Good Client. It is a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell and one of Canada's largest integrated oil companies. It’s been continuously recognized as one of Canada’s Best Employers and Best Diversity Employers.
Skills4Good matched Julia with the board of Calgary Young People's Theatre (CYPT), a nonprofit whose mission is to inspire and mentor the next generation of arts creators and enthusiasts by offering safe, creative spaces where young people can freely express themselves and their ideas.
Q: Why did Shell Canada engage Skills4Good?
A: Care for people is at the core of Shell’s values and Fueling Kindness initiative, which inspires employees to make a meaningful difference in the lives of Canadians. Skills4Good aligns with this ambition by connecting Shell employees with local nonprofits who can benefit from the time and talent of the Shell team.
Working with Skills4Good is seen as a valuable opportunity for Shell employees to gain external exposure. Not only are employees acquiring actual board experience, which may serve Shell in the future, but other important skills are developed and transferred back to Shell.
Q: Why did you participate in the Skills4Good program?
A: I’ve been an active volunteer for many years, mainly in the areas of homelessness and law. I’ve always enjoyed donating my time and “paying it forward”. I scaled back my volunteer commitments after having children but wanted to resume after ending my last maternity leave. I also wanted to contribute to a different initiative in a strategic capacity but didn’t know where to start. It was perfect timing when Shell approached me with the opportunity to work with Skills4Good.
Q: Why did you choose to serve on the CYPT Board?
A: CYPT is a nonprofit that provides development opportunities for children to explore the performing arts through camps, classes, workshops and productions. I have never been involved in the performing arts community, so this was very much outside my wheelhouse. I chose to work with this board mainly because of the people.
CYPT is a group of passionate, talented and smart individuals and I immediately clicked with them. Despite not knowing anything about the performing arts, I looked at this as a learning opportunity while putting my governance skills to good use.
Q: What is the positive impact of your board service on your personal and professional goals?
A: I had yet to serve on a board so from a professional perspective, this has been a valuable learning opportunity. From a personal perspective, my board service provides me with a rewarding sense of satisfaction knowing I’m contributing my time and energy to an organization that provides so much joy to so many people.
Q: What invaluable contributions do you bring to the CYPT board?
A: A significant part of my job as a lawyer is governance focused and these skills are helpful to any board. In addition, as someone from a different background, I bring diversity in opinion and suggestions.
Q: Would you recommend other professionals to serve on a nonprofit board?
A: Absolutely. It’s a great way to connect with your community and other professionals from different backgrounds.
Q: Could you share an inspirational story or insight from your board service?
After a production, a performer’s parent reached out to the artistic director to explain how her child’s involvement in CYPT led to several positive life changes. This particular child is on the spectrum and her involvement with CYPT resulted in a huge boost to the child’s confidence and general demeanor. Stories like these highlight the profound effect this tightknit community has on its participants. CYPT provides a safe space for participants to express themselves creatively and emotionally.
Q: Any other thoughts you wish to share?
A: Skills4Good couldn’t have made this process easier. They were professional, easy to work with and really listened to my preferences to ensure a good fit was made. And it was! I am very grateful for this opportunity.
Julia has brought a whole new perspective to the board through her professional abilities as legal counsel. She has provided outstanding work on board policies and procedures in a meaningful way. Her invaluable contribution has benefitted us in many ways.
For example, we have been able to update respectful workplaces policies with insurance providers ensuring we continue to be in compliance with requirements - a task that would have been much more difficult without Julia's input.
Furthermore, Julia has added greatly to the culture of the board! She has been exceptionally good at recognizing achievement in other board members and staff and taking on the role of Board President only after a short time on the board.”
- - - Joshua Dalledonne, Board Chair, CYPT
Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.