Tapping into passion to create policy-changing communications: Sherry Calder [profile]
In 2002, Sherry Calder had moved to a new province and was looking for ways to build her personal and professional networks. She started volunteering at the Canadian Diabetes Association to support a cause with which she is personally connected. Fast forward to today; Sherry has been supporting the Association’s marketing communications as an employee for more than 11 years.
Sherry is the Association’s Senior Manager of Marketing & Communications, working from the organization’s office in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Having held a number of marketing communications roles over the years, today Sherry works as an account manager; supporting internal departments including government relations and public affairs, research and professional education, programs and services, volunteer engagement and regional offices.
Marketing communications account manager for internal clients
“I am the direct line between these departments and the broader marketing and communications (M&C) team,” explains Sherry. “I meet regularly with internal clients to discuss upcoming projects and provide strategic M&C support and guidance. From there, I work with my fellow M&C team members on plans, critical paths and tactics. Within our team there is specialized talent for functional tasks such as media relations, crisis communications, social media, publications, web and digital media.”
Sherry’s account management experience began prior to her work with the Association. Before making the move to the nonprofit sector, Sherry worked as an account manager and account director with two different advertising agencies. She describes her work in the corporate sector as her ‘professional boot camp’ because it helped her to develop multi-tasking skills, time management and interpersonal skills that help in her current role.
Affecting policy change through nonprofit communications
“What I enjoy most about my role is that I interact with various departments and I’m exposed to a broad range of activities and organizational projects,” says Sherry. “One minute I could be developing key messages in response to a new research study and the next I might be planning a press conference for a national report launch or interviewing volunteers and spokespeople about the impact diabetes has on their lives.”
One success of which Sherry is particularly proud was leading a communications campaign that overturned a provincial government policy announcement that would have negatively impacted people living with diabetes: “Through targeted media outreach and identifying and training spokespeople, the issue was raised publicly and resulted in the government overturning their decision. While it was a team effort, I was proud to play an important role in bringing the issue forward and developing key messages that resonated with so many people.”
“When I decided to start volunteering with the Canadian Diabetes Association, it was a way of meeting new people and developing skills outside of the traditional advertising account manager type of work,” says Sherry. “More than 11 years later, I’m still amazed, on a regular basis, by the passion and dedication from colleagues and supporters.”