We spoke recently with Marlene Mulligan, an Advisory Committee member for the Nonprofit Management Extension Certificate.
Q: Tell us a little about your background and your role at Mount Royal.
A: I’m on the Advisory Committee for Continuing Education’s Nonprofit Management Extension Certificate. I work as Director of Development at Propellus. I’ve been with that organization for three years, since Volunteer Calgary and Central Point for Nonprofit Management came together. I’ve been with them through the acquisition and creation of Propellus, which exists to strengthen charities and nonprofits in Calgary, and before too long, across Alberta. Before that I did corporate community investment for Chevron. I represented their national portfolio from Alberta to Newfoundland.
Q: In your role on the Advisory Committee, what is your passion?
A: I get really excited about being involved in solving problems that are systemic or affecting a large part of our community. With the Nonprofit Advisory Committee, it’s about having conversations to ask: What are the major challenges that the sector is facing? What are the biggest problems that not-for-profit organizations are grappling with? And then, what are we doing about it? In an economic downturn the pressure on nonprofits can intensify as the demand for services increases while support from the private and public sectors decreases.
It’s about what the community’s needs are — what’s already happening and what else could be happening. It’s about exploring new solutions that all nonprofit organizations can benefit from. Those solutions are reflected in our instruction.
Q: Why is MRU a great place for this kind of learning?
A: Thinking forward, there’s a really interesting opportunity for the Continuing Education program in this area because of a couple of assets MRU has. One is the Bachelor of Business Administration – Social Innovation and Nonprofit Minor through the Bissett School of Business and the other is the Institute for Community Prosperity, which connects learning, research and change leadership to build community and strengthen the common good.
There’s some crossover between those two areas in terms of leading social entrepreneurship and social innovation. It’s great how they have modified the Business Administration degree to include components of nonprofit organizations, so they are developing future leaders and managers for any type of organization.
There is already transferability for some of the Continuing Education courses into the degree program. And there’s also a new Community Investment Extension Certificate launching this fall in partnership with the Institute for Community Prosperity.
I think that very naturally the Continuing Education programs will benefit from new curriculum development and new ideas and research that happens at these other points in the organization, so I think that’s a real strength for this program. It strengthens how Mount Royal can serve the nonprofit sector not in Calgary but across Canada.
— photo by Krystal Hurt
Jeff Skipper is a member of the Advisory Committee for MRU’s Technical Writing Extension Certificate. He is the Director and Lead Consultant of Peacebridge Performance Inc., which provides consulting services in change management, communications, training and technical writing. As well, Jeff serves as President of the Alberta Chapter of the Association of Change Management Professionals.
Jeff has had the opportunity to recommend the services of many graduates of the Technical Writing program to clients who require their services in creating clear, efficient and comprehensive documentation.
“Efficiency is a huge requirement in business today. For example, health and safety procedures require that people know exactly how to execute an action quickly, precisely and consistently every time. Technical writers help them do just that and grads of the MRU program are among the best in the field,” Jeff says.
“The MRU certificate in technical writing is an important asset, but it’s not a guarantee of quality. Clients need to see the writer’s work to see if their writing style and skill sets are a good fit.”
“Good writing is good writing and always will be, despite industry trends,” he says. “We are seeing more software applications being used in technical writing. Developing content for platforms such as SharePoint is a growing need in business. MRU takes that input to adapt its programs for changing needs. The Advisory Committee also recommended an Advanced Microsoft Word course be added to the program, as it is an essential skill in technical writing that our grads needed to have.”
“There is an increasing recognition of the value that technical writers bring to the table. Companies are starting to get it,” Jeff says.
“Calgary is very contractor-heavy, so technical writers are often engaged on a project basis. This is often extended once the company understands what good technical writing can do for their processes and procedures. Clarity leads to greater efficiency, which impacts the bottom line,” he notes.
The Advisory Committee is a volunteer group of industry experts — plus one student and one graduate — who meet regularly to help ensure that Mount Royal’s curriculum is current and relevant. They also develop new programs to meet training needs in Calgary and beyond. Most Continuing Education programs at MRU have Advisory Committees.
Calgary has been Jeff’s home base since 2000, where he lives with his wife and children. He believes in working hard and playing hard. In his spare time Jeff enjoys motorsports and driving his convertible. He also runs marathons and plays hockey twice a week. “I even get to drive the Zamboni,” he says with a laugh.