Congratulations to all of the nominees for this year’s President’s Award for Volunteer of the Year! This award is presented to a volunteer who has made a significant impact on our chapter through their exemplary volunteer work.
2015 Volunteer of the Year
For the Vice President of Networking, Dana Higgins, volunteering is a way of life. “Volunteer work is something I like to do. I like giving back. But there’s also gaining professional experience.” One of the highlights of her four years’ worth of experience at IABC/BC has been working on the Board. “When you have Board experience, people recognize it where once they may not have thought about you for those opportunities. It’s already opened up other doors for me.”
Higgins, an Event Coordinator at UBC, sees her role organizing events as creating the best possible experience for attendees. She draws on her lengthy professional experience, as well as tools gained through her project management training, and is constantly looking at evolving and improving what she does. These high standards have kept her particularly busy this past year, overseeing events such as the first joint CPRS-IABC holiday social, the Fall Kick Off and the upcoming Wave Award celebrations.
A tireless manager, she also believes strongly in supporting the volunteers on the ground, regardless of their motivations for helping. “People need direction, so how can we provide that in a supportive way? I’m thinking about what can make their job easier, and providing them with those tools.“
With a keen interest in strategic planning, Higgins intends to focus on devising more formalized processes. “I love planning and finding ways to make things more efficient. So something the Board and I will be working on, over the summer, is making sure we have the systems, building the efficiencies. Having more formalized processes of connecting makes for a smoother process.”
As VP of Student Services, Theressa’s strong leadership and communication skills have helped her oversee her team of volunteers, provide valuable expertise on the Board, connect with partners within post secondary education and contribute to IABC/BC chapter success. She likes to think outside the box, is very supportive and organized, and encourages innovation.
Theressa credits volunteering with IABC/BC in developing her professional skill set. “With the Student Services portfolio, I was able to strengthen leadership muscles by developing synergies with a developing demographic.
Her favourite part of being a volunteer is the people that she meets and the learning that springs from the wealth of knowledge that everyone shares.
“It’s a fantastic way to experience collaboration with communicators from all industries with a wide range of depth and breadth of experience.”
This is Julia’s eighth year volunteering with the IABC/BC.
Julia has been a volunteer for the Gift of Communications program and this year, has served as the Director, Career Development taking the lead on a number of signature programs. In particular, this has been a year in which there has been a number of changes to the career development programs and Julia has initiated and streamlined many of these programs to offer greater value and accessibility to IABC/BC members.
Her initiatives helped steer a number of significant changes in the career development portfolio including implementing a new speed roundtable format for the Mentorship Program and a new format for the Gift of Communications program.
Julia says volunteering has been thoroughly rewarding, both professionally and personally.
“Through volunteering I have met really wonderful people who are passionate about a cause or supporting their profession. It’s an amazing opportunity to work with highly skilled people who are willing to share their knowledge and give back to our community.”
Julia works as the Manager, Communications for The Centre for Drug Research & Development.
“IABC/BC has provided me a foundation to challenge and develop my skills, and allow me the creative freedom to explore ideas that I may not have the liberty to at work.”
“One of my goals this year was to develop my presentation skills. What I didn’t expect was to be put in a situation where I had to facilitate a workshop! It was nerve-wrecking, but I’m glad I didn’t back out.”
Patricia advises people who are considering volunteering with IABC/BC to not hesitate and be afraid to make mistakes. “No matter which committee you volunteer with at IABC/BC, you will make a positive impact. The experience you will receive by volunteering with this organization is unparalleled.”