Member Spotlight

Liz LeClairLiz LeClair
Director of Major Gifts
QEII Foundation
AFP member since 2006

How did you start your career in philanthropy?

Like many people, my path to philanthropy was a winding road. I graduated from Dalhousie University with a degree in Political Science and went to Cardiff University in Wales (UK) to do my M.A. in International Public Relations. My dream was to work at the U.N. and I was fortunate to get an internship at the World Food Programme (WFP) in the summer of 2005. I learned quickly that I was not suited to public relations and international development work, but I did find my passion in running the Walk to End Hunger – an annual fundraiser for the WFP. From there I spent the last 15 years in a variety of organizations, spanning coast-to-coast, and I have never looked back. Fundraising combines two things I love to do – inspiring people and providing tangible impact in the communities I live and work.

What would you tell fundraisers just getting started or looking to grow?

The fundraising sector attracts a lot of young, talented women to the profession. If there is something I would tell them to learn at an early stage of their careers it is to be confident in who you are and your skills. Unfortunately, due to the way society conditions women to behave, we hold our selves back from speaking out and speaking up. We don’t want to be seen as difficult or too “bossy.” This contributes to that while there are 70% women in our sector, only 20% hold leadership positions. We need strong, smart, and qualified women – of diverse backgrounds and communities - in leadership roles. I want to see the sector reflect the world we live and work in and right now it does not.

What about philanthropy is most surprising to you?

How resilient our sector is in spite of so many challenges. And how generous communities are in spite of their challenges as well.

Oddest/Most Unique Fundraiser you’ve ever been a part of?

When I worked at the IWK Foundation as the Manager of Annual Giving, I spent a lot of time at very unique events. I have attended lobster suppers, pig roasts, NASCAR car races, and even a run over the Confederation Bridge. There are so many unique and wonderful ways to fundraise for causes that people love and I am never happier than when attending events like these.