CivicAction is thrilled to welcome Rebecca to the team as our new Program Manager for the Emerging Leaders Network. Warm, engaging, and with an awesome toolkit of skills, Rebecca most recently worked with Apathy is Boring where she coordinated the Toronto RISE project and led groups of youth in becoming more civically and democratically engaged. She was also a co-facilitator for Amplify, a transatlantic youth dialogue.
Learn more about Rebecca in this ELN spotlight!
Before joining CivicAction, you worked at an organization called Apathy is Boring. How do you continue to choose passion over apathy?
I stay passionate by staying informed and engaged with the issues that I care about- and I think that can manifest in a lot of different ways. It can be something as simple as reading a book on a relevant social issue, or as intensive as volunteering your time with an organization you believe in. Everyone’s capacity to engage is different, and I don’t think there’s any single right way. I’m personally really passionate about civic engagement and community development, so I stay engaged by actually interacting and connecting with the people around me. Saying hello to people you see around your neighbourhood, meeting your local political representatives, going to community events—some of the most meaningful change I’ve seen begins with authentic connection.
What are you passionate about?
So many things! As a graduate of International Development, I’m passionate about global issues and helping people engage with them in ways that are ethical and sustainable. Since working for Apathy is Boring and now CivicAction, I’ve become more and more passionate about civic engagement. I’m a big believer that some of the most meaningful changes can come from the community level. My career has quickly become dedicated to supporting people, and especially young people, to engage with social issues that affect them and their communities, and building their capacity to take action as change makers. I guess one way to phrase it is that I’m passionate about helping others find their passions.
What’s your advice to others who might be feeling apathetic or frustrated with the pace of change?
Sustainable change takes time and constant effort, so don’t stop making your own contributions to what you care about, even if it feels small or insignificant at the time. With all of us contributing our piece, we can collaboratively create wider impact. To do that, we can’t be afraid to connect with others. I think we need to avoid working in silos, as we can often have the most impact—and see the pace of change accelerate—when we connect, collaborate, and co-create.
Why is it important to be part of networks like the ELN?
It’s so easy to get stuck in a network bubble, especially within a specific sector. Yet, we need innovative cross-sectoral approaches to solve our region’s most challenging issues. I believe an important part of leadership development is stepping out of your comfort zone and exposing yourself to new people, issues, and ideas. The ELN is an amazing opportunity to make unique connections and build a GTHA network unlike any other. I also think the skill development aspect of the ELN is really important; there’s no endpoint to a leadership journey. Leadership is something that continues to develop, change, and adapt.
At the end of my first year running ELN success looks like…
A network of ELN-ers that are engaged in civic issues, connected to each other, and excited to take action and collaboratively change the GTHA for the better. I’d love to see new members joining from a diversity of communities across the GTHA, our current members re-engaged and reinvigorated, and events that are innovative and accessible to all. This may sound like a lot, but we have a dedicated team of inspiring leaders on our Executive Committee to help pull off an amazing year.
One surprising thing about me is…
My work has taken me to five continents! Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania and of course, North America. The location people usually find most interesting is Fiji—it wasn’t all lounging on beaches though (only some days!).