“The amazing part about giving is that it not only has the power to change others’ lives, it changes yours as well…”
“What do you do?” is a common enough question at parties, playgrounds, socials and church gatherings. Always busy, I could mention my volunteer and community work, my day job or various hobbies (I love to ski, rollerblade, read, cook, undertake home renovations, swim and run). Since 2011 I can now say what I have always wanted to say since I first inquired about adoption when I was 25 years old, “We are raising our two young sons!” and everything that goes with that. They are the joy of our lives and I want to make their lives better everyday, from our family home, to their school and sports programs and the very city in which they live. They continue to inform my everyday of what is important to me in my family, my neighborhood and city. The rest is important, and I will never take away from someone what defines them, but growing and nurturing my family is the most defining element of my life – and I never want to lose sight of that.
Paying the Bills
I am fortunate in that I have always enjoyed the job I do. Don’t get me wrong, I wish elements of the job would disappear. Some days are stressful, but all in all, I get to work and learn everyday with some amazing people, co-workers and clients alike. I’ve been with the same company for the last 22 years, and am currently a Managing Director for RBC Commercial Financial Services. My clients fall within two distinct concentrations: Professional Services, whose breadth of operations include accounting, legal, engineering and consulting services; as well as Public Sector, having included the likes of AHS, universities, colleges and school boards, primarily in Southern Alberta. In the past, I’ve managed many very diverse portfolios at RBC, from small business (mom & pop shops to professionals: Vets, Dentists, Doctors); manufacturers & transportation (from golf carts to buses to airplanes).
I work with my clients, not just to source solutions for their financing and cash management needs, but also to connect them to all the resources that I have at hand, both in and outside of my company, so that they might succeed. That could include bringing in a third party financing partner to bridge a gap in products that we offer, to connecting a client with a new CFO, and offering analysis on economic briefings that relates to the client’s particular industry. The best compliment one client once gave me is that “You aren’t like other bankers.” My job will always be about connecting people and organizations to the solutions they need, the business will follow.
After finishing my secondary schooling in Carstairs, Alberta, I earned my Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Alberta, Edmonton in 1988 and completed my Masters in Business Administration at the Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario, London in 1993.
In 2006, I completed the Urban Design (UD) Diploma from Simon Fraser University. UD is an interdisciplinary program that counts towards continuing education credits for various professional programs, including architects, urban planners, landscape architects and civil engineering. Not being from one of those fields, it gave me great freedom to question assumptions held by each co-ed. In the end, it often resulted in greater unity of purpose in group work decision making, allowing participants to join me outside of their comfort zones and collectively explore the benefits of allowing another’s strengths to contribute. (Lastly, it allows me to interpret planning geek to everyday language at community gatherings!).
Just this past fall, I completed my first Independent Corporate Directors (ICD) Not For Profit program. It was focused on one of my passions of providing better oversight, governance and board effectiveness so that organizations can succeed and by extension, civil society can prosper.
I am passionate about being involved in my community. My parents were always involved, from coaching sports, to running Girl Guides to being a councilor and mayor of our home towns. They were community builders at heart, and in my early travels and work adventures abroad, I realized that the wanderlust lifestyle would not be for me. While it is exciting to explore different cultures and travel to exotic locals, settling down and being able to build community is far more important to me.
Current community organizations that I am a member of, contribute time to or sit on the board of are:
- Families Matter Society Past President
- Queen Elizabeth Elementary School, Playground Committee
- Alberta Real Estate Foundation Board of Governors, Chair Elect
- Hillhurst United Church
- Rotary Club of Calgary Past – Major Donations Committee; Current – Stay in School Mentor
- Calgary Rotary Clubs Foundation Board Member
- Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, Captain & Founder of 2nd Place Fundraising Team
Previously, I have held various other positions, including the following:
- United Way Leadership Giving Cabinet (now a major donor)
- Calgary Parking Authority Board [Elector (public member) of the Board)
- Chair, Affordable Housing Committee (The Journey) at Hillhurst United Church
- Top fundraiser for Kids Help Phone Line Swim-a-thon from 1996-2000 (Vancouver)
- ALS Betty’s Run for ALS #1 Individual Fundraiser for several years
- cSpace Board
- North West Warriors Hockey Association Timbits Assistant Coach (sadly my kids out pace me now!)
- St James Community Service Society (now The Bloom Group), Acting President (Vancouver)
- Co-Executive Director of L.E.A.D.E.R. Project (Leading Education and Development in Emerging Regions),(London, Ontario)
WHY I DO WHAT I DO
“It’s simple. When asked,”If not you, then who?” I chose to give and get involved: because I can, because I care, and most of all, if I don’t, then who will?”
Volunteering is a very important part of my life and I try to be involved in as many projects as I possibly can, in part, because each project, and the team of people that is involved, inspires me in my own life. I also believe that we each have a best before date that we should try not to reach in any one organization and changing who you volunteer with helps each organization to renew by bringing new people and ideas in and your own expertise to new organizations. If elected I will step away from my involvement in each of these organizations by necessity, but it is through my involvement in each of these that I have been able to understand better the needs of our communities, the resiliency of its citizens and the amazing resources we have to build a more prosperous, healthy and civil society.
Families Matter Society Past President
A friend from Hillhurst United asked me to sit on the board of this amazing organization. I must admit I had never heard of it prior to that conversation, but once looking at its website, I was hooked and wanted to be part of the organization and its mission. Programming for families at risk, young couples, incarcerated fathers, women with postpartum depression –
I joined Rotary Club of Calgary, not just for the great service they do in our community and abroad, but for the community they provide of men and women who are incredibly engaged in various aspects of our community. It is a place to surround yourself with great ideas on how to effect positive change and bring it back to your own organization. And I wanted to feel young again! All kidding aside, while the average age of our club was 15 years north of my own, it is easy to understand why when everyone stays engaged and in the club for the rest of their life.
I continue to volunteer to raise funds at our Stampede BBQs and helped out on the Major Donations Committee. But for me the most compelling program is the Stay in School program where I am able to mentor two kids from grade 7 to 12 – helping source the help they need, whether its laptops to do their school work or tutors to ensure they continue to succeed. It takes a community to raise a child and I am happy to be part of that community to help these two kids grow and succeed in school and in life.
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, 2nd Place Captain & Team Founder
While providing my time and talent is my primary way of giving back, donating and fundraising is also very important to me. I cycle through organizations that I focus my fundraising efforts (though the United Way – see below – will always be a major component of my giving and fundraising). Over the last several years, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes has become a major focus, starting as a sole participant to founding and captaining the number 2 team for dollars raised at the 2016 event. The funds raised go to supporting the YWCA of Calgary programs for women escaping abusive domestic relationships. In our current economic downturn, the need is greater than ever as increased economic stresses in relationships leads to increased incidents of abuse in relationships.
United Way (Leadership Giving Cabinet), RBC Campaign
I have been involved with the United Way in one or more ways, since 1996 – the longest of any organization in which I have ever been involved.
I was raised to give back. My parents were always generous with their “time, talents and treasure”. It was imprinted on me from an early age, and I believed in it, not just because my parents did it, but because of why they did it.
“Brent is truly a team player and has the ability to see the larger picture and work towards a common vision with his fellow volunteers.”
Nicole Champagne, Manager, Leadership Giving, United Way of Calgary & Area ~ (Full Letter)
Calgary Parking Authority Elector (i.e. citizen) member of the Board
There doesn’t seem to be much to love about the Calgary Parking Authority (CPA). It comes across as the agency that limits where and when we can park in the city, whether in business districts, major thoroughfares, snow routes and busy neighborhoods – particularly around C-Train stops, schools and shopping areas. In fact, the CPA does not determine parking policy, but was created to implement and enforce city determined parking policies, typically through signage, metering, fines and towing. And it isn’t as if being on the board will allow you to alter the policies or even the areas in which the policies are enforced. If that is your goal, your are better off running for city council and working with the transportation department on over all parking policy.
“Brent consistently offers insightful and constructive perspectives on the often complex matters facing a public agency such as the CPA.”
Dickson Wood, Chair – Calgary Parking Authority ~ (Full Letter)
While it was only a one year term, my tenure was extremely valuable on all three counts above. Parking and traffic issues, both local and across the city, remain top concerns for many of our residents. This directorship provided me increased insights of both causes and possible solutions in varying situations.
cSPACE Projects Board of Directors, Treasurer
cSPACE is an extremely challenging new venture, formed in 2011 as a subsidiary of Calgary Arts Development Authority (CADA)- in partnership with The Calgary Foundation. In its simplest form, it is an organization tasked with developing affordable housing and work space for artists and collaborative cross pollinating work space to enable creative communities to thrive -and in turn, the community at large. The first of its projects to be publicly announced is the King Edward School re-development in Marda Loop.
Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Chair Elect
One of my current volunteer positions is as a Governor on the Board for AREF (Alberta Real Estate Foundation). AREF is a wonderful organization that distributes its funds to programs and projects in five areas of interest:
- Education and Research
- Land Stewardship and Environment
- Industry Leadership
- Community Innovation
Top 3 individual fundraiser for 4 years. This event is my Mother’s Day. My mother was diagnosed with ALS in the fall of 2005, prompting me to return to Calgary to be closer to family. ALS Society in Southern Alberta is an amazing organization that not only raises funds to find a cure and treatment, but to assist those afflicted and family and friends, to cope with information on services and products to better cope as this disease progresses. And for our family, we were particularly thankful for our Angel Jane!
Affordable Housing Committee at Hillhurst United Church –
St. James Community Service Society (now The Bloom Group)
Various positions on the Board, including Acting President
“Brent’s integrity, honesty, transparency, clear sense of purpose and respect for group process were central to his success in facilitating significant positive change.”
Kate Dilworth BSN R.N. MBA, Health Consultant, Executive in Residence, Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University ~ Full Letter
From 2004-2007 I was an active board member with St. James Community Service Society, in Vancouver – the second largest not-for-profit provider of supportive housing for those with a mental illness in Western Canada along with 7 other programs from emergency youth shelter and a Women’s and Children’s Shelter. I had just completed Leadership Vancouver (equivalent to Leadership Calgary) and I was searching for an organization that served people with mental illness. More precisely, I wanted to be involved with one with low barrier and appropriate housing for people with mental health issues for one reason – quality of housing is the key predicator in attaining a healthy and balance mental health. Without stable and quality housing, a person with a predisposition to poor mental health is more likely to experience frequent and greater bouts of mental illness.
“How is someone with acute mental health issues to stabilize and improve if they are living on the street, in a shelter or in a flop house?”
Kids Help Phone’s mission is to improve the well-being of children and youth in Canada by providing them anonymous and confidential professional counselling, referrals, and information through technologically-based communications media.
Co-Executive Director, Instructor
From 1991-1993 I was one of the Co-Executive Directors of the LEADER Project, based out of London, Ontario. It was focused primarily on leading edge non-profit delivery of western economic and business skills in five former Soviet Republics (Moscow, Russia; Dnipropetrovs’k and L’viv Ukraine; Minsk, Belarus; Vilnius, Lithuania; Riga, Latvia). It has since expanded and continues to operate in many other regions of the world, but that was where it started and I was involved in its second and third year of operations, teaching three courses the first year on the ground while being tagged to assume the leadership role the following year.