On the 10th anniversary of the MPNL program, PANL Perspectives spoke to Allison Ramchuk about how and why she excelled during the MPNL program. She has 15 years of fundraising experience and joined the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation, in BC, in 2017. Originally hired as a Director of Philanthropy, she became Chief Development Officer within two years and applied to the MPNL program after that. She became CEO of the KGH Foundation very soon after graduating.

What stands out for you in your two years in the Master of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership program?

Allison RamchukRamchuk: The most eye-opening thing for me was, and still is, the world perspective — the broad view that the program provided me. As a practitioner who’s been fundraising and working in the social sector for more than 15 years, I feel comfortable with my practice and familiar with the world in which I’m providing services, but the program helped me to think differently about problems that I face every day, and helped me to recognize some of the challenges communities are facing, not just locally, but across Canada and internationally.

Also, I’m better able to predict and prepare for different trends, opportunities and challenges that the sector is facing — from a bigger perspective, a global perspective. It’s such a diverse sector, with a diverse landscape of organizations and communities, and the program allowed for diverse conversation — and diversity of thought. We recognized it’s important to bring in under-recognized voices into our work and into conversations. The program created a continuous opportunity to think broadly.

How relevant is the MPNL program to your work and the sector?

Kelowna General Hospital, C-section procedureRamchuk: The program educated us about what current best practices are. For me, when I started in this work, I saw that it’s like any industry in that it’s constantly changing — technology affects things and what matters in communities changes, especially during Covid, when few people had solutions. So, having access to a continuous dialogue, as a practitioner and as a student, was awesome. How do these issues affect our sector? How can we meaningfully respond? What resources are out there? We asked these big questions of guest lecturers from government, from Canada’s Senate, from leaders of other organizations, and we actually had access to people who were focussed and committed to having conversations. We didn’t necessarily solve all the problems, but we were able to have dialogues about them, and I don’t think that access is easy. The program provided a lot of value between the professors, the guest lecturers, and the knowledge and intelligence of people in the classes.

How did you finish the MPNL program while simultaneously working full-time?

KGH FoundationRamchuk: The idea of going back to school, post-secondary, especially in my late thirties at the time, was a little intimidating, even just the application. It got me thinking about what it would mean and how I would do it. I was working full-time. I have two amazing sons who were in high school then, and I’m a single parent, so I was raising them on my own. The idea of adding a program into that mix was very intimidating. The people running the MPNL program were incredibly supportive. I did a minimum of three courses a term, plus at that time, I was the Chief Development Officer at KGH Foundation, so I had a staff of eight and I was fundraising about $10 million a year.

I literally had to take it one course and one assignment at a time, and by doing that, all of a sudden, I was in my last course, doing my capstone (my last assignment). It was a lot of hard work — MPNL isn’t a simple program; it’s an academic program — but very supported and very manageable.

Never could I have imagined that within an hour of submitting my capstone project, the KGH Foundation board chair walked into the office and offered me the position of CEO of the Foundation.

And I don’t know if you want to say it’s universal, or serendipitous, or if it’s when readiness meets opportunity, but I can’t tell you how grateful and how amazing that was — to have those two opportunities collide in that moment. And I know that they’re absolutely interconnected and changed who I am as a professional and a person.

Allison Ramchuk is CEO of Kelowna General Hospital Foundation and can be found on LinkedIn. The KGH Foundation is at www.kghfoundation.com. Photos are courtesy of the KGH Foundation.

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Saturday, July 9, 2022 in , ,
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