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Skills4Good Spotlight: Melissa LaForge

May 2020

This 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.

Meet Melissa LaForge

Melissa LaForge, Director, Enbridge

“Serving on Aventa's board has been a very positive experience. I feel connected to my community with my involvement in an organization that does good work. I’m able to give back to the community and set a good example for my kids.”

Melissa LaForge
Director, Enbridge

Enbridge is a Skills4Good Client. It is a North American leader in delivering energy. It’s been consistently recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers.

Enbridge

Skills4Good matched Melissa with the board of Aventa Treatment Foundation for Women (Aventa), a nonprofit with a mission to improve the lives of women and their families affected by addiction, mental health, and trauma through treatment, advocacy and education, in a safe and supportive environment.

Spotlight on Melissa

Q: Why did Enbridge engage Skills4Good?

A: Enbridge engages Skills4Good to provide its employees with the opportunity to serve their communities through a not-for-profit organization using a highly customized approach. The partnership with Skills4Good helps Enbridge achieve its strategic objective of investing in the attraction, retention, and development of our people.

This opportunity benefits Enbridge, the employee, and the not-for-profit. From Enbridge and the employee's perspectives, the experience provides board and governance experience, as well as diversity of thought through the interaction with people of different skills and backgrounds.

Q: Why did you participate in the Skills4Good program?

A: There are a few key motivators that contributed to my interest in joining a board. First is to feel connected to my community by being directly involved with an organization that does good work. Second is to give back to the community that I have been very fortunate to have been brought up in and also set a good example for my kids. Third is that it allows me to expand my personal and professional networks and challenge my own views.

Q: Why did you choose to serve on the Aventa board?

A: Aventa is truly a leader in providing trauma-informed addiction treatment services to women in Alberta. Its team demonstrates an unwavering commitment to helping those in need and strives for continuous improvement. It is exceptionally well-run and has a solid reputation.

Also, the board is extremely diverse, with representation from the business and medical communities, as well as Calgary Police Services, all of which help guide the organization forward. Prior to joining the board, I met with the board chair and attended a board meeting as an observer. I felt a personal connection to the organization and those on the board which ultimately led to my decision to join Aventa.

Q: What is the positive impact of your board service on your personal and professional goals?

A: Serving on Aventa's board has been a very positive experience indeed. I am impressed with how much the management team cares about its mission. Each meeting starts with an update by the Executive Director, who is always acting on feedback from her clients to make their experiences as enjoyable as possible. For example, she introduces new activities (e.g. crafts), replaces furniture and equipment, and celebrates birthdays and milestones. The organization is driven by the health, happiness and success of its clients.

Q: What invaluable contributions do you bring to the Aventa board?

A: Aventa was looking specifically for a Treasurer to help support their Finance team and who could provide financial acumen. My accounting and finance background fit this need. Many of the board members have been a part of this organization for many years, so I also bring a new perspective on operations and strategy.

Q: Would you recommend other professionals to serve on a nonprofit board?

A: Yes, it is a great way to contribute to your community, meet new people, and share ideas with others that have different backgrounds and experiences than you. I would encourage anyone that is looking for a board opportunity to do your research and find an organization that means something to you, and where you feel a connection to its management and board members.

Q: Could you share an inspirational story or insight from your board service?

A: I am very impressed by Aventa's reaction to the COVID 19 pandemic. True to form, management put the safety of their clients and employees first. They are taking all preventatives measures that they can and also assisted a sister addictions center who was struggling to manage during this time. It is a great example of the organization living up to its mission statement and the board fully supported them throughout the process.

Overall my experience with Skills4Good and Aventa has been extremely positive. I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve on the Aventa board.

Nonprofit Recognizes Melissa’s Invaluable Contributions

Aventa
Erin MacPherson, Aventa, Board Chair

“Melissa has a wealth of financial and accounting experience, which has helped our new Financial Manager immensely. She is engaged and committed, and her personality and demeanor fit so well with our board. Her board participation has been very positive.”

Erin MacPherson
Aventa Board Chair

Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.

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