Special Episode: Introducing Barbara Grantham

Episode Transcript

Lama Alsafi: 00:01 Hello and welcome to 15 Minutes to Change the World. Where in 15 minutes, you can learn a bit more about the world and how you can help change it.

My name is Lama Alsafi host of this podcast. In this episode of 15 Minutes to Change the World, we’re talking with the new President & CEO of CARE Canada, Barbara Grantham.

Barbara has held executive positions with some of Canada’s foremost nonprofit organizations including the Vancouver Foundation, BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Street to Home Foundation . Barbara also established and ran her own highly successful consulting practice. In 2016 Barbara was named one of Women’s Executive Networks Annual Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada. Most recently she received the 2019 AFP Lifetime Achievement in Fundraising Award in recognition of her decades of philanthropic leadership. Barbara joins us remotely today from Vancouver. Welcome Barbara to our podcast and a big welcome to CARE Canada.

Barbara Grantham 01:33 Thank you Lama. I am thrilled to be, not only doing this conversation with you, but I am thrilled as well to be joining the team here at CARE Canada.

Lama Alsafi: 01:42 Well, very happy to have you and we’re very excited to introduce you to our listeners. So Barbara, just reading your introduction, you’ve had quite the exceptional career in the nonprofit sector. I’m wondering if you can share a bit more about your background before you landed here at CARE.

Barbara Grantham: 01:59 I grew up in Vancouver, um, and then I, I spent a number of years in Ontario actually when I was in university and uh, and as a young adult and then came back to BC and really established myself in the nonprofit sector. And I’ve been in various roles over my 30 year career where I’ve worked for organizations that fund the sector, at Vancouver Foundation, which is a very large community foundation, the United Way, which is another funder of, uh, humanitarian and social services organizations. I worked as a fundraiser, for hospital foundations and other organizations. And I’ve worked always broadly in that human and social and community well-being.

All of my work has been about making the community in which I live, whether it’s locally or within the context of my province or my country about making it a better, a better place to live. I’m so excited to be joining CARE because this now gives me an opportunity to take so many of the skills that I’ve been fortunate to, to gain and to learn working here in the Canadian context, in the nonprofit sector and really see how together, uh, the team here at CARE, with all of our supporters and our partners to to have impact on, on a global scale.

Lama Alsafi: 03:26 CARE helps women and girls in developing countries to lift themselves and their families out of poverty and crisis. So I’m wondering, Barbara, what is it about CARE’s focus about bringing people together to end inequality that got you interested in CARE?

Barbara Grantham: 03:39 We live in a very complicated time and right now in a particularly complicated time, obviously Lama with the whole COVID epidemic in our midst and in our reality so profoundly everyday. I didn’t know obviously that this pandemic was going to unfold when I began to have conversations with CARE back in, in the autumn of 2019 and what then pulled me into the enticing opportunity of, of joining the team here at CARE was always had this hunger, I guess, to, to work and to apply my skills and my curiosity for learning within that context of being a global, a global citizen. And I, I see everyday the, the profound opportunity that we have, as a global community to list all of our, sense of betterment up by, by ending the very deep inequality that continues to exist for women and girls. And the sooner we can address that inequality and close that equity gap, uh, the better the world for all of us is going to be.

Lama Alsafi: 04:52 Barbara, I wonder, what are you most looking forward to in the coming months as you settle into CARE?

Barbara Grantham: 04:57 Well, that’s a, that’s a really good question. If you’d asked me that question Lama, a month ago, at the beginning of March, I would have said, I’m so looking forward to coming to Ottawa and meeting the team and settling into the offices and going out across the country and meeting with all our other staff that are in Toronto and Calgary and Vancouver and our board members and our donors and supporters and now all of us are, we’re all working from home. We’re all working remotely, the entire, the entire team. So what I’d envisioned about what these first few months would look like and settling in, has changed again very dramatically over the last few weeks. But I think what it’s helped me to understand is that while we are physically apart, we are so deeply socially connected. And I’ve seen already, even in my first two days in the role here with the organization, the deep sense of commitment that everybody has for the mission and the purpose of what we do and the really rich sense of team and commitment to each other as people. It’s a, it’s a phenomenal group of people and I just feel so privileged to, to be now part of this team and I’m really, really looking forward to digging in in the months to come.

Lama Alsafi: 06:18 As you said, it has been a unique time in that we are all practicing social distancing, physical distancing, and we’re all working remotely. So certainly we’ve had to be adaptable in these past weeks. I wonder what this experience has been like for you? Now you’re joining us, you’re starting off as CEO in Vancouver.

Barbara Grantham: 06:37 I said to somebody the other day, you know, there’s no article in management literature or organizational development. There’s no article called how to start as a CEO in the middle of a global pandemic and there’s no book with that title. Maybe someday I’ll write, I’ll write that article. I think the working remotely part has really brought home for me a couple of things. One, in fact, social distancing, as you know, is a privilege. Being able to work from home, being able to socially distance and the kind of home in which we live and the kind of privilege really that we have living in a, in a country like Canada, and it’s a reminder to me every day, the women and girls and families, as this epidemic makes its way around the world, which it’s doing, it is marching everyday around the world. And as it begins to move into parts of the world that do not have the same privileges that we have in this country, it reminds me of the work that we do and how vulnerable those families are going to be and how important it is for us to make it even harder to, to help them come through this epidemic as healthier societies and robust society. And women and girls are going to be counting on us to be there for them to do this work.

Lama Alsafi: 07:59 So Barbara, during these, during these uncertain times, what can someone who’s listening at home right now or in their car do to make a difference in the lives of women and girls around the world?

Barbara Grantham: 08:10 I’m trying to do those few things everyday. They’re my local touch points and I’m trying at the same time to, to need something that will help me learn more about this pandemic and how it’s impacting not just my community here in Vancouver, but how it’s impacting countries that don’t have anywhere near the resources that we have here. And so I think everyday you can, your listening to this as you said at home or in the car or somewhere, it’s probably in a fairly comfortable space. What’s one thing, what’s one phone call that you can make today? What’s one new thing that you can, deepen your understanding of, of this time in which we’re living and what’s one call to action you can answer whether it’s making a gift to a, to a cause that you care about or donating some food in your house to a food bank. There’s acts of generosity and kindness that all of us can undertake. If we all sometimes take an individual measure the collectively they matter a great deal.

Lama Alsafi: 09:24 Those are some good tips. Barbara, thank you so much for, for sharing them with us and thank you for your time today and for joining us on our podcast.

Barbara Grantham: 09:33 Thank you for having me Lama.

Lama Alsafi: 09:35 And thank you to all of our listeners for tuning in. As always, you can stay up to date on the latest episode of 15 Minutes to Change the World on Spotify and iTunes.