“In the classic way that you’d hope volunteerism contributes to a career; it has happened for me.”
Meet Paula Colvin, the Director of Marketing and Fund Development at CASA Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health. Paula’s 28 remarkable years of experience as a Marketing and Communications professional is no sheer luck; neither was her winning an IABC Capital award an overnight success. Volunteering became a big part of how she actualized those goals to fuel her career growth and success. In this feature, Paula talks about her passion for volunteering and how that experience helped her flex her strategic-leadership muscles.
Tell us about a significant project in your career or current role. What made it such a noteworthy accomplishment?
I reflect fondly on my work with the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton. In 2016, I made an intentional career pivot into the non-profit sector and starting here was an excellent way to test the waters. The role exposed me to working with an array of people. It was usually a constant stream of diverse people coming in for help through the holidays, and I found it rewarding and exciting because I could see the direct impact of our work. I have never been that close to the mission in all the volunteering that I have done as a sales and marketing leader.
What skills have you learned through your experience that aspiring business communicators would find helpful to include in their toolkit?
At Alberta Cancer Foundation, we did a lot of storytelling, which drove our brand. What I have found to be successful in exploring this skill is to burst out of the formulaic box, and I worked with my team to ensure that we allowed the patients and families to tell their stories so that we could hit the key messages in the right way.
How has the pandemic impacted how you communicate with your stakeholders? What has changed about your content and messaging?
With CASA, we’ve done so much work for children, youth and family, and there is a new strategic roadmap that is timely for this period. It has been said that the next wave of the pandemic is mental health, and our goal is to “level up” on kids’ mental health. Part of that commitment is to double the number of kids we reach within the next three years by pushing from 4,000 to 8,000 kids annually. So, the communication to the stakeholders is: “it’s all about the children, it’s all about reaching more children and partnering with every layer of the community.” This isn’t merely philosophical for us at CASA; we are all going to get together and do the work.
Think back on when you newly joined IABC; how has your membership shaped your professional career growth?
My IABC membership became more than having an opportunity to network with like-minded professionals. I built lifetime meaningful friendships. I joined IABC circa 1995, at a time when I had so much to learn; starting as a young, up-and-coming communications coordinator looking to cut her teeth into the corporate world, I was like a sponge absorbing all available information. We were a smaller group, and now in 2022, the association has grown. There is a lot more structure and a ton of content for new members. While I couldn’t volunteer back then because I was learning, I currently serve as a mentor, and that is what’s lovely about my journey; it is a real full-circle moment for me.
Describe to us a picture of your vision for IABC Edmonton by 2030.
I would love for us to be recognized externally by other branches of IABC. We could be leaders in helping smaller regions that are starting who don’t have as many years of experience under their belt.
You can connect with Paula on LinkedIn.