Skills4Good matched Stephanie with the board of Action Against Hunger (AAH) Canada, a nonprofit whose mission is to lead the global fight against hunger.
The Skills4Good Spotlight series shines a spotlight on amazing corporate employees who generously share their time, talent and treasure with nonprofits as they help build resilient communities. We recognize and thank our corporate clients and their employees for their meaningful social impact in strengthening nonprofits who serve our communities especially during this pandemic.
RBC is a Skills4Good Client. It is a global financial institution with a purpose-driven, principles-led approach to delivering leading performance and creating value for its clients and communities. It has been named as one of the “Best Workplaces in Canada” for 11 consecutive years.
Meet Stephanie Breitman
Q: Why did RBC engage Skills4Good?
A: RBC chose to work with Skills4Good because of the twin benefits of giving its employees the opportunity to contribute to their communities while cultivating skillsets that complement on-the-job learning.
RBC is a very community-focused organization; the opportunity to work with Skills4Good is well-aligned with our corporate values, including the prosperity of our communities.
We at RBC believe that the success of our company is defined by the long-term wellbeing of the people we serve, the places in which we operate and the planet that we leave to future generations.
Q: Why did you participate in the Skills4Good program?
A: The Skills4Good program appealed for many reasons.
First and foremost, the opportunity to give back to the community has always been a central tenet of mine, so the social aspect of the Skills4Good program and ensuing Board opportunity were important to me.
I also liked that I would be developing skills (leadership, strategic thinking) and experiences (learning how Boards function, firsthand and sitting on the Audit Committee) that would bolster my confidence in a professional setting.
Lastly, I appreciated the opportunity to grow my network; as someone who has worked in the financial sector for over ten years, it has been wonderful to meet people that serve on the Board and that work at the managerial level that have completely different backgrounds and experiences.
Q: Why did you choose to serve on the Action Against Hunger Board?
A: The AAH Board attracted me for several reasons. Chiefly, I feel very passionate about the organization’s mandate of ending global hunger. The areas in which AAH operates contain some of the most vulnerable populations, and I believe access to food and clean water are a basic human right.
Further, AAH has taken a data-driven approach to tackling malnutrition, which attracted me because it is a scientific approach to solving the issue and therefore I believe has a higher chance of success. I also liked the variety of programming on offer, which ties in malnutrition treatment with other issues such as gender-based violence and a focus on women and children.
As for the Board and Audit Committee, specifically, I was attracted by the very deep bench of talent as well as the high quality of governance standards. I could tell from the get-go that this Board functioned professionally and that I would gain the experience of serving on a “best-in-class” Board. Further, I felt there was a very strong element of “fit;” everyone I met during my interview process was approachable, intelligent and open-minded.
Q: What is the positive impact of your board service on your personal and professional goals?
A: The impact has been profound, both in a personal and professional sense.
Personally, my time on the Board has provided me with an invaluable perspective on how the challenges of food security, gender-based violence and climate change are inextricably linked, in the context of malnutrition. Attending educational and fundraising events has allowed me to further my understanding of these challenges while meeting the exceptional staff and volunteers that provide our programming. The level of determination and optimism is both infectious and humbling.
Professionally, I have benefited by assisting in setting the high-level strategy of the organization, including financial oversight in my capacity as a Member of the Audit Committee. I have also had the pleasure of watching the entity grow its revenue stream by launching a professional services model to capitalize on its rich store of malnutrition analytics and data. Learning how to enhance and protect the organization’s financial viability has informed how I think about challenges and opportunities within a professional context at RBC.
Q: What invaluable contributions do you bring to the Action Against Hunger board?
A: I have provided guidance on corporate fundraising initiatives and I have been able to apply expertise from my professional role as a financial researcher to decision-making within the Audit Committee. I have also been able to liaise AAH with opportunities at RBC, including a very enthusiastic group of volunteers that helped out with our annual fundraising gala last year.
Q: Would you recommend other professionals to serve on a nonprofit board?
A: Absolutely, I would recommend other professionals serve on a nonprofit Board. The experience has expanded my horizons, introduced me to new people and ways of doing things and has given me the opportunity to become more involved with a cause that I care about.
Further, working with Skills4Good was a great experience; they helped me to focus my areas of interest and provided me with access to nonprofit opportunities that I would not have sourced on my own.
Q: Could you share an inspirational story or insight from your board service?
A: I would like to mention two inspirational moments.
One is the first time I attended an educational event put on by AAH, where I had the opportunity to hear the staff and volunteers in the field speak about their experiences in countries such as South Sudan, Mauritania and Bangladesh. The hardships that are experienced in delivering malnutrition programming were extreme but the level of commitment to make a positive change and save lives was overwhelming. Hearing about their experiences was emotional and it made me proud to be associated with the organization.
The second inspirational moment is ongoing and has to do with how AAH is handling the COVID-19 crisis. The Board has been extremely diligent in providing guidance and oversight. Perhaps an organization is not truly tested until a crisis, but I believe the AAH Board and management have risen to the occasion, and it has been inspirational to me to work alongside such a hardworking and committed group of individuals.
Q: Any other thoughts you wish to share?
A: Thank you to the Skills4Good team for the support during the search and matching process!
Nonprofit Recognizes Stephanie’s Invaluable Contributions
Q: Why did your nonprofit engage Skills4Good?
A: Skills4Good helped us achieve our objective of reinforcing operational excellence, effectiveness and good governance. It is crucial to look beyond our existing networks for talented Board members from different sectors and with a variety of backgrounds and experiences.
Q: What are Stephanie’s invaluable contributions to your board?
A: I was impressed because Stephanie hit the ground running in a way most board members do not. She needed little time to be up to speed on all our sector’s topical issues and jargon. It often takes a good year for Board members to be as comfortable as Stephanie seemed in the first month. I have been impressed by her contributions ever since. She attends all board and committee meetings and can be counted on to ask pertinent, challenging and relevant questions of management and fellow board members. She was a great support during the audit process and in providing advice and ideas as we expanded our professional services work.
Q: Could you share how Stephanie is making a meaningful difference in the community?
A: I have been inspired by Stephanie’s engagement with our fundraising initiatives and her commitment to learning more and sharing it with others in her network. That goes a long way to raising our profile and ensuring others know about the good work we do around the world. She pitched in last year to provide extra support as a member of the committee for our annual fundraising gala, which was above and beyond her work at the Board level and as a member of the audit committee. This included sharing opportunities for raising new revenues and soliciting support from her family, friends and networks for our ongoing fundraising priorities.
Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.