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Volunteer Engagement professionals from across the GTA join TAVA each year for professional development and networking. Whether they're new to the sector or veterans in the profession, all TAVA Members have experiences, ideas, and resources to share.  And, this is the space where we share their stories! Note: If you'd like to be spotlighted, please email us at  

Larisa Nagelberg

Nicholas Chuba

Organization: Toronto Humane Society

Role: Division Manager, Community Sheltering and Animal Transports


Hands down, this would the expansion of our Urgent Foster care program. In 2021, we brought in nearly double the number of anticipated animals into emergency foster care. The pandemic has been hard on all of this, and many pet parents have found themselves in critical situations that affected their ability to care for their pet. This program could not have been scaled without the support of the foster parents who took in 145 animals in need in 2021! 

"TAVA is one of my key resources for staying up-to-date on industry trends and topics. As I work in an organization with a relatively small volunteer management team, TAVA has helped me tap into a community of other volunteer managers.”

Read Larisa's full interview 

Organization: Yonge Street Mission (YSM)

Role: Volunteer Resources Coordinator


Having a community of people who are working towards the same goals, experiences the same high points and struggles, and having a group of people to turn to for insight and support is great to surround yourself with, as well as having so many experienced individuals to reach out to as I’m starting in this sector.

"Having a community of people who are working towards the same goals, experiences the same high points and struggles, and having a group of people to turn to for insight and support is great to surround yourself with, as well as having so many experienced individuals to reach out to as I’m starting in this sector.”

Read Nicholas's full interview 

Holly Procktor

OrganizationArt Gallery of Ontario

Role: Coordinator, Volunteers

Why TAVA? "I love TAVA’s camaraderie and informality. Our members work across different sectors, but we share such common experiences. TAVA meetings are a great place to come together socially; to laugh, to commiserate, and to grow. I’m always learning from members - whether it’s looking to our colleagues who have won innovation awards, or to members who generously share training & orientation resources, practical tips and tricks, and lessons learned. Most of all, I find TAVA is a really positive group, where we can share successes, and cheer folks on (I’m not the Awards and Bursary Chair for nothing!)."

"I think one of the biggest challenges of working in volunteer engagement is a lack of formal leadership opportunities and career growth. As volunteer professionals, we have so much on-the-ground experience that teaches lessons that can be applied well beyond volunteer management – into areas like HR, donor relations, training and organizational development, but these areas often feel out of reach. That is why opportunities like joining the TAVA Executive are so important: it’s an opportunity to shape the scope of an organization, our mission and values. Volunteering on the TAVA Executive fills in that gap for me!."

Read Holly's full interview 

Donnett Bailey

OrganizationYonge Street Mission

Role: Volunteer Resources Coordinator

Why TAVA? "TAVA provides amazing growth opportunities! Personally, TAVA has provided me with countless growth opportunities, not limited to: professional development workshops, a forum to connect with others in my sector to exchange best practices and support, and the opportunity to serve in various leadership roles on the TAVA Executive Committee over the years (i.e. Past President, President, Vice President, Webmaster, Treasurer, Social Media…). And, most importantly, thanks to TAVA I’ve been able to make some amazing friends and professional contacts!"

"Due in no small part to the contributions of the over 13 million charitable and non-profit sector volunteers, our 'sector contributes an average of 8.1% of total Canadian GDP, more than the retail trade industry and close to the value of the mining, oil and gas extraction industry',  yet, there remains an immense lack of appreciation for volunteers, volunteerism, and the professionals who engage our volunteers"

Read Donnett's full interview 

Ambrose Fan

Organization: Shelter Movers of Toronto

Role: Volunteer Services Administrator

Why TAVA? "It gives me access to workshops and opportunities to network. The first workshop I attended was about safer spaces and meaningful inclusion for 2SLGBTQ+ volunteers. I took away some great tips, and was really impressed with the expertise of the TAVA membership."

"Volunteering isn’t just something nice people do in their spare time. This is a workforce. Volunteers may be unpaid, but they are ‘real’ workers for a simple reason: their work is real. And their needs and rights are real."

Read Ambrose's full interview 

Denise Smith

OrganizationThe LIFE Institute 

Role: Manager, Volunteer Services

Why TAVA? "Aside from the workshops that are provided, TAVA has created a community of like-minded people who are all willing to support each other."

"My advice to someone looking to take the next step is to be ready for an exciting, challenging, humorous, and rewarding experience."

Read Denise's full interview

Christine Martin


Role: Senior Manager, Volunteer Engagement

Why TAVA? "Being a part of TAVA provides the community of peers we all need. I always walk away being inspired."

"I also recommend expanding your professional development and learning beyond the usual topics - what about learning more about marketing or adult education or event management? Read broadly. Keep learning and expanding your thinking and you are sure to grow!"

Christine was the recipient of the 2018 TAVA Innovation Award!  

Read Christine's full interview 

Faiza Venzant CVA, CVRM

OrganizationYMCA of Greater Toronto

RoleGeneral Manager, Volunteer Development

Why TAVA? "TAVA is the place I go to find support, to continue growing as a volunteer engagement professional, and to encourage others who are pursuing a career in this field."

"TAVA has provided me with leadership opportunities as a volunteer Executive Committee member, with bursaries to further my education, and with chances to facilitate workshops. I have also been able to build friendships that will last a lifetime."

Faiza was the recipient of the 2019 TAVA Innovation Award!    

Read Faiza's full interview 

Ramla Abukar

Organization: CNIB Foundation 

Role: Coordinator, Advocacy and Community Engagement (GTA)

Why TAVA? "I'm able to apply my new knowledge in engaging with the volunteers I oversee."

"My experience with TAVA has been very positive thus far and knowing I am able to connect with other TAVA members for support with volunteer engagement issues puts me at ease."

Read Ramla's full interview 

Emily Poirier


OrganizationCentennial Infant and Child Centre

Role: Volunteer Coordinator

Why TAVA? "TAVA provides access to a wealth of resources and professional development courses that will, without doubt, elevate my skills in this role."

"My primary focus and consequent challenge is recruitment, knowing the impact that numbers can have on the quality of our programming."

Read Emily's full interview 
Christine Callender

Organization: The Scott Mission

Why TAVA? "I saw the menagerie of offered workshops and resources ... all excellent, fabulous, and highly beneficial to maintain a successful volunteer program."

"I recommend using regular check-ins to ensure that volunteers are still in a ‘happy place’. "

Read Christine's full interview 
Andrea Field

Organization: Bata Shoe Museum

Role: Manager of Education and Volunteer Resources

Why TAVA? "It’s a great opportunity to develop and maintain connections with individuals from a diverse range of organizations. Although I’m a new member, I have already benefited from the exchange of ideas and resources."

"Find a mentor! Mentors allow you to tap into a wealth of knowledge and experience. They can connect you with others in the profession, help build confidence, and encourage personal and professional growth."

Read Andrea's full interview 

Mimi Lee

Organization: North York Seniors Centre

Role: HR Coordinator

What are you most excited about for the #TAVAMissionPossible Conference? "We have an amazing line-up of speakers. Four to be exact! We will get to share ideas, learn from each other, and enrich our learning in this dynamic field."

"TAVA brings awareness for members to see the importance of our profession. It's also a great way to network with a diverse group of volunteer engagement professionals."

Read Mimi's full interview

Saskia Rinkoff

Organization: Harbourfront Centre

Role: Manager, Volunteer Resources

What are you most excited about for the #TAVAMissionPossible Conference? "I look forward to reconnecting with colleagues I haven’t seen in a while, and the chance to expand my horizons and network.

"My advice would be to self-reflect, identify where your knowledge gaps are, and tackle them using different approaches"

Read Saskia's full interview

Hilary Kellam

OrganizationOperation Smile Canada

RoleCoordinator, Volunteer & Student Programs

What are you most excited about for the #TAVAMissionPossible Conference? "I am looking forward to witnessing our theme, Mission:Possible, come to life as we listen to our AMAZING Speakers, connect with one another and share our stories."

"Through TAVA, my passion for working in the volunteer sector has expanded."

Read Hilary's full interview 

Christopher Boyle

Organization: Evergreen

Role: Coordinator- Volunteer Engagement

What are you most excited about for the #TAVAMissionPossible Conference? "I'm really looking forward to hearing inspiring stories from presenters, and attendees, about how they were able to redefine challenging situations into stories of success and innovation."

"Each time TAVA gathers, I am inspired by the diverse scope of experience, unique perspectives, and dedication to making a difference, that we collectively share."

Read Christopher's full interview 

Lori O'Neill

Organization: Distress Centres of Toronto

Role: Volunteer Coordinator

Why TAVA? "I learn valuable things from TAVA, which I sometimes use in my career or my own volunteer work. Even one "nugget" from a workshop can be worth the time it takes to attend."

"Be open to change. Question those new ideas, procedures, policies, etc., but don't resist them just because they're new. As I learned in a TAVA workshop, most change is uncomfortable at first, yet so much can be gained by giving yourself time to adjust."

Read Lori's full interview 

Heather Johnson

Organization: Canadian Cancer Society 

Role: Senior Coordinator, Volunteer Engagement

Why TAVA? "TAVA links me with other volunteer engagement professionals across the city, many of who work in very different sectors than I work in/ have worked in. Through TAVA I have grown as a professional and as a person through regular contact with friends and colleagues."

"Be a volunteer yourself (with an organization not your own) so you can see things better through the eyes of a volunteer and invest in your professional development annually." 

Heather has volunteered on the TAVA Executive Committee for a number of years, first as Secretary, then, as President and Past President. Thank you Heather for your service and dedication to our professional community!

Read Heather's full interview 

Candy Keillor 

Organization:  Centennial Infant and Child Centre Foundation

Role: Development and Communications Coordinator

Why TAVA? The combined expertise in any given meeting will offer insight and support for those who have chosen this profession. I love that so many sectors are represented and each person brings something unique to the table. 

"Network, network, network. So often the volunteer manager is the driving force behind recruitment, training and engagement, which can feel isolating. I recommend joining TAVA where you will meet like-minded professionals." 

 Read Candy's full interview 

Diana Church

Organization: Operation Smile Canada

Role: Director, Volunteer & Student Programs

Why TAVA? "The tools, resources and workshops available to us have been invaluable. Most importantly, TAVA makes it easy to connect with incredibly talented and passionate Volunteer Management professionals."

"I highly recommend connecting with other volunteer engagement professionals through TAVA and other associations for the nonprofit sector. Not only will you feel a sense of community but there is also a wealth of knowledge through experience that exists within these networks."

Read Diana's full interview 

Dawn Ashford

Dawn Ashford

Organization: VHA Home HealthCare

Role: Supervisor, Volunteer Services


TAVA provides a connection to other professionals in the field that I may not make on my own. TAVA also offers great professional development, a connection to our provincial professional association and opportunities to lead and contribute to our community of professionals.

"TAVA provides a connection to other professionals in the field that I may not make on my own. TAVA also offers great professional development, a connection to our provincial professional association and opportunities to lead and contribute to our community of professionals.”

Read Dawn's full interview 

OrganizationYonge Street Mission

Role: Volunteer Resources Coordinator

Why TAVA? "I love attending TAVA’s annual conference! It is a great opportunity to learn from so many different professionals, and I always find the variety of sessions so beneficial. TAVA has certainly helped me grow professionally and given me a better understanding of networking."

"Don’t underestimate people’s desire to do good! A year ago we were re-entering a lockdown and so much felt overwhelming and unknown. For example, we were not sure how we were going to run our Christmas programming with so many restrictions! But time and time again, our volunteers continued to surprise us with their dedication and willingness  to support us. So, if I travelled back in time, to one year ago, I would have advised or told myself: “breathe… everything will work out!"

Read Shelby's full interview 

Thank you  for choosing to be a TAVA member. We love to learn, connect and share with you. We hope your TAVA membership adds value to your daily work and life!  - TAVA Executive Committee

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