Executive Director at Canada Africa Partnership Network
Tell us a couple of things the network should know about you personally.
As Executive Director of the Canada Africa Partnership Network, Claire has spent the past six years working with volunteer groups to build their capacity to raise funds for partner projects in Africa and supporting capacity building for grassroots African projects. Beyond that, Claire has 12 years’ experience in the non-profit sector specializing in fundraising, communications and organizational management.
She has worked with NGOs in Canada, Africa and India working to improve the efficiency of organizational management systems, to raise their profile and to generate resources to support their work. Claire has also served as President of the Board of Directors of the Ontario Council for International Cooperation representing a membership of over 40 NGOs and serving the interests of the international cooperation sector.
Claire has a passion for grassroots participation and the beauty of smaller, community-based initiatives as both as a means of advancing community development goals and in effectively engaging with Canadian supporters. Claire holds a B.A.H in International Development from Queens University, an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a Certificate in Impact Assessment for International Projects from the University of Victoria. Born and raised in Toronto, Claire recently moved to Port Hope Ontario with her husband and two young sons.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
Working with a very supportive and engaged Board of Directors to weather the loss of federal funding for NGOs like the CAP Network. Together we have transformed our operational model to one which puts partnership at the forefront of our work and recognizes capacity building of both Canadian and African grassroots efforts as a core focus of our efforts.
Now we can truly say that we are facilitating partnerships that increase collective impact, enable direct funding support for African community-led development efforts and build solidarity for a more equitable, healthy and sustainable future. We can now proudly distinguish ourselves from other organisations working in the region due to our unique model.
The impact in communities continues to focus on Accessing Education, Investing in Livelihoods, Mobilizing with Bikes and Promoting Health, but our role is now to invest in community-based organisations so that they can develop the skills and access the resources to implement their own project activities. We are now happily situated behind the scenes where we belong while our partners work with their communities towards their common goals.
What motivated you in joining the Canada Africa Partnership Network (CAP Network)?
I first got involved with the CAP Network (then CAP/AIDS) in 2003 when I had just completed graduate school. I was attracted to this new organisation because of its work with grassroots community based organisations and a commitment to the empowerment these local groups as development actors. This was a vision for the future of development where communities are not beneficiaries of outside aid, but are rather catalysts for their own futures with access to appropriate support and solidarity from outside.
The theme of the gala is "celebrating our heritage" what does that mean to you?
This theme resonates strongly with us as it is a common thread across so many of our partner projects. Many of the communities we have been working with face tremendous challenges – be it rebuilding after civil war, establishing new models of family livelihoods after the loss of loved ones to HIV/AIDS and helping young people to envision a healthier, more prosperous and sustainable future.
So often our partners are using cultural ties as a means of engaging with their communities to address these challenges. They are harnessing the power of music, drama and dance, drawn from their heritage, and are bringing people together to work towards a brighter future.
How can individuals support CAP Network initiatives?
There are many ways to get involved – whether you’d like contribute to the cause as a donor, a rider in our annual bike-a-thon, or volunteer, simply connect with us to deepen your understanding of community-led development or make a connection with one of our grassroots partners through one of our Canadian Communities of Support.
Please visit us at www.capnetwork.ca for current volunteer opportunities (e.g. right now we’re looking for graphic designer and new Board Directors).