“Paying it forward” as volunteers
When Jeremy Mosher and his wife, Andrea (Hay), both Artsci’08, first came to Calgary in 2008, they didn’t know many people. Jeremy was just starting a new job as a financial analyst and Andrea was beginning her MD/PhD studies at the University of Calgary.
“We had a limited support network in the community,” says Jeremy, “so we decided to attend a Queen’s event, in an effort to build our network. We went to the Branch’s Johnson Award reception, which is a well-attended event for prominent alumni in Calgary. While it was a bit intimidating, we owe great thanks to the Williamsons – Krystyna (Artsci’86) and Andy (Sc’85) – who have contributed to the Queen’s-Calgary community for many years. They introduced themselves to us, welcomed us, and made us feel at home, but that’s the way the Queen’s community welcomes new people, isn’t it?”
Jeremy and Andrea connected with the Calgary Branch, led at the time by Josephine Tsang, PhD’06, another grad who made them feel right at home. Over time, Jeremy joined the executive, following Josephine as president in 2012.
“For Andrea and me, volunteering has always been something we cared passionately about” Jeremy says. “An important role model taught us to live under the mantra the more you do, the more you can do, so we are always very keen to get involved. We have focused our contributions on communities that have helped us along the way, so we feel we are simply paying it forward. Andrea’s work with the MD/PhD program at U of C and my work with the QUAA is very much focused on making sure these organizations are available to the next generation.”
Jeremy is also proud of the work of his fellow volunteers, who have done a lot both for the branch as a sustainable organization and as a group that also “pays it forward.” He is quick to give credit to the Branch’s current executive: Kayla Paret, Spenser Heard, Dave Holden, Adam Shetler, Ryan Murphy, Nick Godwin, and Bobby Noakes.
His fellow executive members have taught him some valuable lessons that he can use professionally, as well. “I’ve been able to expand skill sets like project management thanks to people like Kayla, Spenser, Dave, and Adam, who spend much of their professional time meticulously focused on the execution of major projects. Additionally, I’ve learned about leadership from many Queen’s community members as we all work to build the Calgary Branch into a sustainable organization.”
Jeremy is particularly proud of the branch’s innovative community outreach programs. These include initiatives to connect with students starting their Queen’s experience (“New to the Q”), an e-newsletter sent to students on campus, and “Welcome Back” pub nights and mentorship programs to re-engage students when they come back to Calgary. Jeremy says, “A lot of effort has been placed on making sure students and young alumni know that we are here to help.”
He knows the Calgary Branch is in good hands as Adam Shetler takes over from him as president later this year. Adam has made innovative contributions already, leading the mentorship program and the design of the branch logo and t-shirt, for instance.
Meanwhile, Jeremy continues to serve on the QUAA Board of Directors. As part of his role there, he is chairing the 2014 Alumni Volunteer Summit, to be held on campus on April 4-5. The Summit offers professional development for current and future Queen’s volunteers. Jeremy is looking forward to sharing ideas for building stronger volunteer organizations wherever Queen’s people live around the world. (Last year’s Summit attracted Queen’s alumni volunteers from across Canada and the U.S, as well as a few from Europe.)
The focus of the weekend – developing sustainable volunteer organizations – should interest Queen’s branch volunteers, reunion coordinators, and alumni involved with other Queen’s or external groups who want to learn how to grow and sustain their volunteer communities and initiatives. Jeremy says, “We have a number of prominent speakers who will offer perspectives on the challenges facing all sorts of organizations, including how to recruit and ‘develop’ volunteers and put succession plans in place.
The Summit will also premiere an Alumni Volunteer Opportunities directory, an online resource that will match people with volunteer opportunities to help Queen’s.
Learn more about the Alumni Volunteer Summit online: queensu.ca/AVSGala