Marsha Doucette at WE on the unexpected nonprofit career path
Marsha Doucette’s story begins with one of the best days of her life: the day her dad received a life saving liver transplant. This event sparked her journey and interest in becoming a nonprofit professional- using her skills in events and fundraising for good. Now as the Director of National Partnerships at WE, Marsha continues to marry her skills and her passion every day. Marsha talks about her role, how she got into nonprofit and shares advice for other young professionals.
Can you briefly describe your job ?
As many nonprofit professionals are familiar with, I wear many hats and have an ever evolving role. Currently, I engage with a handful of our large partnerships that span across Canada, USA and the Caribbean. As a Director on the Partnerships Team, I co-lead our collective team of 20 Partnership Managers, who oversee more than 210 Partners, all while ensuring our corporate partners are seeing the value of their sponsorship dollar. With the Caribbean market growing, I’ve been appointed Head of Caribbean Programming, Partnerships and Business Development, working in Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, St Lucia and Grenada. In addition to partnerships, I have been taking a leadership role in a new section of the organization; WE Companies. With this new venture I will be leading the Employee Engagement Programming for our corporate and retail partners.
Describe the moment you realized you wanted to work in nonprofit?
I always wanted to be a doctor- I wanted to help people. When I moved back home after University, I was helping out with my family because my dad was very sick, needing a liver transplant to survive. When he received one, it was one of the best days of my life. Afterwards, I organized a fundraiser for the Canadian Liver Foundation, bringing together community members, organ and tissue donation advocates, and members of the liver health community, to raise awareness and funding for liver disease research. At the time, events and public relations had been something I participated in, in my ‘volunteer’ time. Following this successful event I was asked if I would be interested in working at the Canadian Liver Foundation. Working at a nonprofit wasn’t top of mind as far as a career path, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to look into. Realizing I could use my talents and passion toward helping people through fundraising and events – the rest is history! I’ve been in the nonprofit sector for more than six years – and I truly believe the work I do every day not only has a direct impact, but is helping people – achieving my ultimate goal.
How did you get your current job and how did your previous work / life experience prepare you for a career in social impact?
I applied to WE in search of an organization that was doing fantastic work both domestically and internationally. Leaving my previous employer, motionball for Special Olympics, was difficult, as I had a very close connection to the cause and team. However, since then I have been an even greater volunteer and advocate for motionball, while fulfilling my career goals and professional development at WE. Through past and present experience in project management, event execution, company marketing, business development, this was a good next step. I believe we all have the ability to learn and succeed when we put our best efforts forward. Moving up the corporate (nonprofit) ladder wasn’t part of my initial plan, but has fit naturally with the leadership conferences, social good summits, international volunteer experiences, fundraising events, and the many coffee-dates I have attended. These experiences I chose to go after have prepared me for the work-world success I’ve had to date.
What skills and qualities do you think are important to be a great Director in a nonprofit?
Leading by example, with an open and curious mind are great qualities of a Director in nonprofit. I believe one needs to be a passionate leader.
What advice do you have for people looking for social impact jobs ?
Be adventurous! Reach out to members of different organizations to learn more about the industry and the vast array of opportunities they all have. The more people you know in the space, the more references and contacts you will have for when the next opening is posted.
What are you reading or who are you following that has expanded your understanding of the impact sector?
Clay. Water. Brick – by Jessica Jackley (co-founder of KIVA)
Following: Leila Janah, Founder and CEO of Samasource (social enterprise that helps people lift themselves out of poverty through digital work)
Do you have a philosophy that live/work by?
Live each day to the fullest!