Amanda Sawatzky

Amanda S

Bachelor of Education

Describe your board/organization, their objectives, and your responsibilities during the NPBI internship.

The mission of the Cerebral Palsy Association Alberta (CPAA) is to enrich and support the lives of children and adults with cerebral palsy and other disabilities through their programs and services. They also collaborate with other organizations to promote awareness, acceptance and understanding for persons with disabilities to live, learn and work in the community. My responsibilities during the internship included attending board meetings, reviewing board documents and preparing and executing my board biography and skills exploration project. 

Can you describe your project and how you think it will benefit your board?

My project contained two complementary, concurrent parts. Part one included interviewing board members in order to draft, review and finalize board biographies. A brief profile was added to the website, and a more thorough introduction was shared among board members. The second part involved conducting a skills exploration of current board members. A survey was sent out to capture and analyze current board strengths and address opportunities for future additions. The purpose of my project was to identify and celebrate strengths of CPAA board members to enhance engagement and help move the organization towards its mission and values. The biographies will be useful in welcoming new members to the board by giving them a chance to learn about their fellow board members. The interview questions could also be utilized in the future to capture developments of the team. The skills exploration identified strengths of the team that will be helpful in their upcoming document revisions, and areas of opportunity for potential new board members.

What stands out for you as key learning moments as a result of volunteering on a board?

Through my interviews with board members I was privileged to learn about all of the different backgrounds, lived experiences and skill sets that members brought to the board. This really emphasized the importance of building strong relationships within the board and how powerful it is to have folks from a variety of backgrounds sitting on a board. Understanding the breadth of skills that are vital to the composition of a board helped me to make connections between the work of the organization in correlation to the discussions and decisions as a board. 

Would you recommend this program to U of A students and why?

The NPBI internship provides excellent foundational knowledge regarding the purpose and responsibility held by boards and board members. Having an opportunity to participate meaningfully on a board empowers students to see the value of their contributions beyond the classroom.