This new series is designed to introduce you to our current, future, and even some past board members.
We have new members joining the board soon, and wanted you to have an opportunity to get to know them, as well as the folks who are currently serving.
Meet Allison MacDonald, a long serving board member and co-chair of the board.
Find out why she was inspired to join NextGen.
When my husband and I decided to attend a NextGen focus group for the Creating an Island of Choice: Young Talent Attraction Strategy project back in 2015, it was a decision pretty much made on a whim. Things were busy at our respective workplaces (in fact, I was only a month and a half into my new job in marketing at Protocase), and we had a young 18-month old at home who was keeping us plenty busy.
I was vaguely familiar with NextGen Cape Breton, having done a brief, yet wonderful, stint working at the Cape Breton Partnership fresh off of my maternity leave, before landing at Protocase permanently.
But the premise of NextGen's mission -- to engage, connect and inform young people in Cape Breton -- and the idea that these focus groups would gather feedback and opinions in order to develop clear, concrete strategies for making Cape Breton an island of choice for young professionals, were too intriguing to pass up, busy schedule be damned. NextGen Cape Breton seemed to be perfectly tailored to my interests and personal experiences.
After all, I was one of the many young professionals flocking home after years away. Both born and raised in Cape Breton, my husband and I had attended university in Halifax, then spent four years in Calgary before making our way back to Halifax in 2011. Once our daughter was born in 2013, we made the decision to pursue employment in Cape Breton, seeing it as the perfect chance to put down roots and be close to our families.
So the idea of being able to weigh in on my personal experience of being born and raised in Cape Breton, leaving for several years, and then moving back home, quite simply, was too good to pass up.
Although the focus group was over five years ago, I remember there being several lively discussions around a series of topics. What did it mean to be successful in Cape Breton? What was Cape Breton missing for young people? Where did Cape Breton already excel for young professionals?
Leaving the focus group, I felt satisfied that I had at least had my say on what I felt were the challenges and the opportunities for young people to thrive in Cape Breton. But it left me wanting more. More involvement, more chances to weigh in, more opportunities to meet young people in Cape Breton across a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences.
So when a staff member from the Cape Breton Partnership mentioned to me a year later that the NextGen board had a few openings, I took literally no time to consider applying for one of the spots. (I had just given birth to my second daughter the month prior, so I suspect I was still in the newborn haze period, and perhaps not thinking clearly!). It just seemed like an extension of a journey I had already started.
The NextGen Cape Breton team was putting the finishing touches on its final report, Creating a Prosperous Future: Young Talent Strategy for Cape Breton Island. I was excited to find out what strategies and opportunities the report would determine would be best for Cape Breton's youth to move forward in a positive way.
At the heart of it, I joined NextGen because I truly believe Cape Breton is stronger because of the young people who choose to remain here -- or return here after years away. Cape Breton's only way forward to prosperity is to have a healthy, active population of young people who are encouraged to pursue high-quality post-secondary education, try new business ventures, have leadership roles in the community and be able to express themselves.
I'm not saying I have all of the answers on how we can move forward. Far from it, actually. But I do know the people who make up the NextGen board are dedicated individuals with passion, ideas and respect for one another. We are committed to trying new things, growing our current initiatives and reaching out beyond our own personal circles, with the ultimate goal of making Cape Breton stronger.
With a year left in my tenure as co-chair with Erin Gallagher-Lynk, I’m excited to see what more we can do to engage and connect youth in Cape Breton Unama’ki --all over the island.