A career like no other

Nonprofit Management graduate Timmi Shorr reflects on a decades-long career in the nonprofit sector 
Nonprofit Management graduate Timmi Shorr
Timmi Shorr says Mount Royal's nonprofit management programming helps raise the sector's profile.

Mount Royal’s Nonprofit Management Extension Certificate program prepares learners for the unique and meaningful experiences that come with working in service of others.

Program graduate Timmi Shorr has had a lifelong career in the nonprofit sector. Her experience ranges from library programming to mental health to her current role as grants coordinator for the Alberta Law Foundation. Shorr says that Mount Royal’s program helps raise the profile of the nonprofit sector as a field where people can get an education and pursue a career.

Originally from Fort McMurray, where she lived with her husband and two sons until 2009, Shorr graduated from the University of Alberta with a degree in Human Ecology specializing in textiles. She had originally planned to work in fashion and operated her own seamstress business. However, she felt the draw of serving the community that she knew and loved, and was soon hired to work on marketing and programming for the local library. She later landed her dream job working for the foundation at Keyano College, where she helped fundraise for scholarships, new buildings, and other priorities as a fund development coordinator.

“I’ve always excelled at relationships - connecting people and connecting to people,” she says. “I really enjoy that part of fundraising since it’s all about relationships. I think that’s why I fell into the career I did. It matched with my mentality of wanting to make a difference and fit with my strengths.”

Her work and relationship-building skills stood out, as she was eventually head-hunted to work with the Canadian Mental Health Association, rising in the ranks to quickly become the Executive Director. After stepping away from that role, she worked for nine years as the regional coordinator for Junior Achievement and also served as a substitute teacher. She moved on to work at Rowan House, a 24/7 emergency women’s shelter in High River, where she earned the title of Executive Director yet again.

This time, things felt a little different. The work was emotionally heavy, and “I didn’t necessarily have the experience in this sector,” Shorr says. “Luckily the staff was stellar and very experienced. There can be leaders at all levels of an organization!”

Although Shorr had many years of nonprofit and leadership experience by this point, she was looking for some formal education to support her growth. After exploring her options, including considering getting an MBA, she discovered Mount Royal’s Nonprofit Management Extension Certificate program.

“It looked achievable,” she explains. “The syllabus and courses were all very applicable and that you would actually use the knowledge. It felt like a practical use of my time and money. It covered all of the key things that someone who was a leader in nonprofit needed to know.”

The theme of community popped up again once Shorr began her courses and found she already knew her instructor, Judy McMillan-Evans.

“It was like when the universe shows you that you’re in the right place!” she tells.

With support from her board in terms of professional development, Shorr worked her way through the program and the course work seemed to align with her job duties in perfect harmony both at Rowan House and in her current role.

“While working on a project for Rowan House that was first-of-its-kind in Canada, I was enrolled in the project management course. Later on, while I was doing some board development work, I just happened to be taking the board governance course,” she says.

Shorr further says that the course materials and the instructors, as well as her fellow students, made her time in the program a memorable one. “I still have all my books and look at them. It was so valuable and interesting to have dialogue and the discussion boards with the instructors and others in the course. It was a great exercise in putting your ideas forward, being vulnerable and having people support the decisions you've made or how you approached it. That’s the value of education, I think, is being among like-minded people.”

These days, Shorr finds herself on the other side of fundraising as a grants coordinator. The Alberta Law Foundation seeks to promote legal awareness and accessible justice for Albertans. It awards funding to organizations that conduct legal research and law reform, law libraries, and programs that work improve Albertans’ knowledge of their legal rights and responsibilities to support them in effectively exercising their rights under the law through direct legal services.

While her career has been varied and seems to be coming full circle, Shorr says many may not know what careers within the nonprofit sector are available. “They realize there are jobs within the sector - like a social worker - but not that it’s an actual, fulsome sector with a broad range of jobs and opportunities. 

It’s very people-oriented and you do feel like your work is making a difference.”

Visit the program page to learn more about the Nonprofit Management Extension Certificate.