Charlene Gagnon is on track to be a two-time Mount Saint Vincent University graduate soon. In 2008, she completed her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology/Anthropology and, with just one course to go, she’s set to complete her Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership by 2021.

Since completing her BA, she’s been working in the nonprofit sector in Halifax, primarily in research and program evaluation roles. She currently works as the Manager of Advocacy, Research and New Initiatives with the YWCA Halifax.

“I work on social justice issues such as women’s housing and homelessness and youth sexual exploitation from a systems level, engaging with community partners, government and other stakeholders to bring about the crucial systemic change required to address social inequities in policy and program design,” explained Charlene.

She saw the program in Nonprofit Leadership at MSVU as a means to advance her career. “The program was appealing to me because it offered training and education in the executive and administrative aspects of nonprofit work, and I saw it as an opportunity to develop hard skills which would advance my career and knowledge.”

Charlene was in the midst of a course on Nonprofit Marketing (BUSI 3338) at MSVU in the winter 2020 semester when the pandemic required a sudden shift to remote course delivery. As professors worked to respond, some had to make changes to assessment plans. For Charlene, it meant a switch from a final exam to a final project: the development of a marketing and fundraising plan.

The purpose of the assignment was to learn how to apply theory learned in class to prepare effective plans, explained instructor Kulvinder Malhotra. Students were encouraged to ultimately share their plans with the nonprofit organizations for whom they created them.

Charlene’s plan sought to raise $5,000 to help YWCA Halifax meet budget goals. Her campaign featured staff stories told in video format (you can watch on Youtube). Despite the pandemic, which has made fundraising challenging for many nonprofits, Charlene’s fundraising plan far exceeded her goal. Between April 15 and early June, she helped the YWCA Halifax to raise more than $17,500.

The Nonprofit Leadership Program is offered through the Department of Business Administration and Tourism and Hospitality Management at MSVU. The program is offered as a Major, Concentration, Minor or Certificate – the latter being an excellent option for those seeking to advance their careers in the sector.