Sherlyn Assam, MPNL 2022I was fortunate to spend my time in the SPPA completing my Master of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership. We learned about trust-based philanthropy practices. We strategized different ways nonprofits and foundations could interact with the public and private sector to fulfill their charitable missions. Most importantly, we challenged the impact of the philanthropic sector, which I think will help make it stronger in the future as we all continue to work in our respective organizations.

My cohort was full of brilliant and dedicated professionals who I loved learning from. They elevated the topics we were assigned because they each had unique experiences to speak to the same theories, policies, and practices we studied. We were taught by professors who were knowledgeable and passionate; critical, yet optimistic. Whether profs taught us about improving organizations’ cultures and structures to better serve their communities or led us through more community-centered work, such as learning how to launch a social enterprise with a community, the program made me rethink the potential of the philanthropic sector.

Since completing my master’s, I work at Future of Good, a digital publication that covers news, trends, and research in the social impact sector and philanthropic institutions. My role is to research and write stories about women and gender diverse people’s economic resilience, especially given the impact of the pandemic. The education SPPA provided me has really helped ground my understanding of the sector. It also contextualized how equity-deserving groups receive — or fail to receive — support, which has helped me develop an eye for stories where people are being marginalized, and search for solutions to alleviate such inequalities.

Sherlyn Assam was one of the first recipients of the Black Canadian Fundraisers’ Collective Award in 2021. The award supports Black students aspiring to pursue a career in professional fundraising and promotes Black leadership within the philanthropic and nonprofit sector to make professional education more accessible, equitable and inclusive by reducing financial barriers. BCFC is investing in the aspirations of future Black fundraisers and ensuring their access to financial support as they pursue higher learning. We are pleased to present four outstanding emerging sector leaders as the first recipients of the Black Canadian Fundraisers’ Collective Awards.