Nextgen board profile: Liam Gillis
This 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 Liam Gillis, and find out why he was inspired to join NextGen.
In 2015, I returned home from Halifax, after eight years away, to work as a lawyer with a local law firm. While I was excited to return to Cape Breton, I was also anxious to leave a young and vibrant Halifax.
Those anxieties were misplaced.
I quickly discovered that Cape Breton had a dynamic and passionate community of unheralded young professionals.
I joined the board of NextGen that same year. I wanted to contribute to this determined network of community builders. My first year on the board was primarily concerned with the creation of the Young Talent Strategy for Cape Breton Island. The Strategy’s main aim is to clearly articulate a critical path for young talent to take their place as a key competitive advantage and major contributing factor to economic growth and future sustainability for Cape Breton. That Strategy was unveiled at the NextGen Forum in 2016.
The response at that forum was tremendously encouraging. People of all ages attended, but it was particularly important that a significant number of young professionals attended to contribute to the discussion. It was clear that Cape Breton has a passionate base of young individuals who are devoted to making positive change on this Island.
Since that time, NextGen has primarily focused on growing the annual Vital Awards. These awards, and that night, are focused on celebrating inspiring young individuals and highlighting their success stories. There are so many success stories! Cape Breton is filled with talented and committed young people contributing to a wide array of fields—culture, tourism, business, medicine, arts, and music—just to name a few.
Cape Breton is a wonderful place to live. Part of NextGen’s mission is to change the narrative about Cape Breton. This is an Island filled with opportunities for people to lead a happy, successful, and engaging life. The stories we tell about ourselves are important. We want to make the world aware that this is a place where people can thrive. We not only want former residents to be aware that they can return home and find opportunity, but for individuals born in other provinces and countries to consider contributing their labour here. NextGen doesn’t want to help only stop outmigration, but wants to help build an image of Cape Breton that inspire migrants to consider moving here.
NextGen has provided me with a tremendous opportunity to contribute in some small way to celebrating the success stories we see and hear on a daily basis. In doing so, it is my hope that other individuals will come to love this Island as much as I.
Five years ago, I returned home uncertain as to what I would find. Now I am happily married with a young child and have recently become a Partner at a local law firm. Cape Breton has provided me with a quality of life I would be unable to find anywhere else. Hopefully, NextGen can help influence others to make the decision to build their lives here.
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