Christa McMillin, Partner
Christa graduated in the mid-1990s from Queen’s University with a degree in Political Studies and a desire to make the world a better place . . . somehow. She wrote a lot of letters to NGOs offering her services as a better-world-maker, but ended up teaching English in Japan for a couple of years. She then spent most of her (not so) hard-earned yen travelling through southeast Asia, India, east Africa, Turkey and as much of Europe as she could afford.
She settled in Ottawa and applied to graduate schools in the hopes of improving her better-world-maker credentials. In the year before starting her Masters degree at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, she did a variety of work, including a stint evaluating applications to teach English in Japan and a few months at an executive search firm. These experiences provided her with a wealth of anecdotes of what not to include on a CV and what to make sure a “reference” will not say about you.
While in grad school, Christa worked as a junior researcher with the mine action team at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in the heady days following the signing of the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines.
With her newly minted MA in hand, Christa juggled numerous interesting contracts for a few years. She worked with the Participatory Development Forum, an inspirational network of better-world-makers; the Canadian International Development Agency’s (CIDA) international humanitarian assistance unit (the experience of working on the donor side of projects has provided her with invaluable insight of donor needs when she’s on the NGO side of projects); and The World Bank and Carleton University where she coordinated the first-ever International Program for Development Evaluation Training.
She also managed learning events for the Canadian Labour Congress and The World Bank in Washington, DC. And for five years, she was a volunteer director with World Inter-Action Mondiale (now One World Arts), a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating awareness on world issues through the arts on a shoestring budget and a team of volunteers.
In 2002, she joined Mines Action Canada, Canada’s campaign to ban landmines and cluster bombs where she managed the Youth Mine Action Ambassador Program, a national youth engagement and capacity building program, which grew into the international Youth Leadership, Education and Action Program. Her favourite part of this job was training and supporting young Canadian professionals in the international internship program and helping them launch their post-internship careers.
She’s also particularly proud of the cadres of young people overseas who she helped train to be effective advocates and leaders in their own countries. Most recently, Christa worked with the Canadian Co-operative Association where she had an up-close view of the importance of young people sustaining a movement.
In almost all of these positions, Christa faced the struggle of trying to attract, recruit, train and manage young professionals when she didn’t have a budget to offer a salary that could compete with government or private sector work. At the same time, while she felt there was so much work to do – there just wasn’t enough time to hire someone to do it.
Christa’s still passionate about wanting to make the world a better place and now she wants it to be even better for her two young children. She’s making this happen through training and coaching young people who also have a desire to make positive change but need some help getting their foot in the door to get started, and by working with their employers – potential and current – to attract, manage and retain them.
If this sounds like someone you could relate to, commiserate with, or learn something from, Christa invites you to contact her at email@example.com.