page contents Vote Dylan Bressey, candidate for Grande Prairie City Council. Election 2017. page contents

Non-Profit Experience

A good Council is one with diversity. Every Monday I am taking some time to write about unique perspectives I would bring to the Council table.

Today I am going to talk about my career.

I've spent over ten years working for an organisation called Young Life. I run youth mentoring programs throughout the Peace Country. My job is to recruit and train volunteers, build partnerships with schools and other organisations, and to raise funds. To learn more about Young Life, visit www.ylpeacecountry.ca

Through my job, I have spent many summers working at a very large camp. To see how it has prepared me for Council, checkout www.voteBressey.ca/blog/summercamp

Here are some of the ways my career has prepared me for Council:

I Know How to Partner With Non-Profits

Non-profits are an important part of our community. They are a place for people to get connected as volunteers. They deliver programs which meet needs government is unable or unwilling to address. The non-profit sector is also responsible for a significant portion of our GDP.

The City offers funding and partnerships to many non-profit organisations.

For the most part, these organisations are doing great work. I'd like the City to find ways to interface with these organisations even better. There are many ways beyond funding that local government can aid charitable work. As a non-profit director, I have the experience needed to find these opportunities.

There are also notable examples of poorly run groups funded by the City. These examples drive me crazy! With experience in the sector, I know what questions to ask groups looking for City support. I know how to evaluate their business plans and service outcomes to make sure taxpayer money is being used effectively.



I Know How to be Transparent and Stringent

Outside of an occasional Canada Summer Jobs grant, my work does not receive government funding. A big part of my job is to sit with our funders to give an account of how their donations are being used. Over the past few years, the economy caused donations to go down. I had to both cut my budget and continue to serve those involved with our programs. I am accustomed to hard budget decisions. I am also used to being accountable with other people’s hard earned resources. I look forward to applying this experience to Council. We need to shape a transparent and stringent budget.

 

I Have Organisational Knowledge

Our donors come from a variety of industries and backgrounds. When we meet, I often ask them how their business is going and receive great stories of successes and failures. My work has also given me opportunity to work towards a Master of Arts in Organisational Studies. I'm learning about how private, non-profit, and public groups function and dysfunction. I have exposed myself to both academic and real-world examples of how complex organisations should operate.



"Going Into Their World and Earning the Right to be Heard"

This is a phrase that drives Young Life's work with teenagers. We don't wait for them to show up at our programs. We volunteer in schools, watch sport games, hangout in the mall, and do whatever it takes to meet teens where they spend their own time. As we build friendships, we "earn the right" to have an impact. We spend way more time listening to teenagers than we spend talking to them and planning programs.

This has fundamentally shaped how I undertake leadership in all aspects of my life. This is why knocking on doors has been a big part of my campaign. I am doing the hard work of going to where people live to connect with them. When I talk to someone, the first thing I say is "are there any topics you're keeping your eyes on?" I'm seeking out people so that I can listen to them.

If on Council, I won't wait for people to call or email me. When considering major decisions, I will proactively seek out the people impacted. I won't be going to them to share my ideas. I'll be going to them to listen well and allow their experiences to shape my opinion.



I Don't Take Myself Too Seriously

At Young Life, we say "we take kids seriously but we don't take ourselves seriously at all." Sometimes I get to model this by running a camp or event as a goofy character. I love getting to put on an outrageous costume. I love writing jokes. I love entertaining. But most of all I love what this communicates. It lets me say "I don't take myself too seriously, so you don't have to take yourself too seriously; let loose, have fun, and be yourself." This message is important because it is how great conversations start.

This philosophy has shaped how I practice leadership. I don't think I am the smartest and most experienced person in Grande Prairie. But I am great at finding and listening to those people. I take my work and I take others very seriously. By not taking myself too seriously, I am able to put others first and to be open to new ideas and information.

 

When I recruit volunteers, I often say "I'll be asking you to go out to meet and earn the right with kids who have no initial interest in you. If you can figure out how to do that, you will be ready to meet most challenges in life." Young Life leadership is one of the best training experiences available. I hope you will vote for me so that I can apply its lessons to the work of City Council.