Five questions for Catherine Tremblay, Associate, Philanthropic Development

May 7, 2024 •  By Centraide
Catherine Tremblay

Catherine Tremblay has been an Associate, Philanthropic Development (APD), for Centraide since its 2019 campaign. Her employer, Correctional Service of Canada, supports her in this role by letting her work full-time for Centraide during its fundraising campaign from September to December each year. 

How did your journey with Centraide begin?

I saw a posting for the position at my workplace at a time when I needed a bit of a change. The duties seemed like a great fit with my interests, and there was a lot of similarity with what I was already doing. I expressed interest, and my employer agreed to let me take on the position. 

I’m a parole officer. Part of my job is to support people who have been released to help them return to the community. I often guide them to community resources, such as agencies that work in food aid and mental health, many of which are supported by Centraide. The Centraide campaign lets me give back differently from what I do in my work but in a way that still reflects my values of social reintegration. In my role as both a parole officer and an APD, I feel like I’m making a difference and contributing to society. At Centraide, I feel like I’m a small link in a big chain that helps the campaign’s success and contributes to something bigger that makes a true impact in the community. 

How would you describe your role? 

I generally describe myself as a kind of liaison officer. I am a bridge between Centraide and the companies that run workplace campaigns. I have to learn all about Centraide to provide companies with the relevant information. My goal is for them to run interesting, satisfying and successful campaigns for their employees. We also want them to have great experiences. That means I need to communicate effectively, make presentations, provide fundraising materials, and organize awareness activities with them. You have to connect with people. The role also has a customer service aspect, so you sometimes have to give the white-glove treatment to help with interpersonal relations. 

We are assigned accounts, and each one is managed by a Centraide advisor who stays in constant contact with us, informs us of Centraide’s orientations and strategies, and puts us in touch with each company’s campaign managers. The whole thing is a team effort, with the other APDs as well. We all talk about our campaigns and practices. I’ve always felt that my contribution was important. 

What has this experience brought you so far?

It has taken me completely out of my comfort zone. I regularly give presentations about Centraide. I once gave a talk to 200 people, something I had never done before. I have learned how to summarize what Centraide does in just a few minutes. I can also transfer all of the skills I acquire in this role to my work. As a parole officer, I have to be very diligent, and I apply the same skill to Centraide in my relationships with people and in my follow-ups. The APD program is a win-win experience. 

I love my job and work environment, but coming to Centraide for a few months a year to do something different gives me a great change of pace. Everything about Centraide—the environment, the atmosphere, the support—is positive. And I feel appreciated. My role there is also a great way to give visibility to Correctional Service Canada, which supports my commitment and Centraide’s values. 

I’ve worked for the government since I was young, so seeing how private companies operate is a whole other world for me. Since I’m a curious person, I really like getting a look at what goes on behind the scenes at different businesses. This feeds my curiosity and my interest in learning new things. During the five campaigns I’ve worked on, I’ve been involved in a variety of sectors. The human contact is also very rewarding, as you come across so many diverse people who are all so positive. 

the apd program is a win-win experience.  

How does Centraide support you in your role? 

Centraide really welcomes you, and you immediately feel like part of the team. You feel important. We get very good training, supervision and support from the advisor in charge of the program. We aren’t left to our own devices. Someone is always there to answer our questions and guide us. The two-week training when we start is very comprehensive. Although complex, in the end, all the pieces come into place, and you clearly understand your role as an APD. 

What would you say to persuade potential APDs to join this program? 

Everyone’s motivations are very personal, but I’d certainly encourage people to give it a try, as being an APD brings you so much both personally and professionally. This role has let me push myself and get out of my comfort zone to try new things, which I never used to do. It has been a very positive experience. 


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