By Elisha Kittson
As Community Relations Director at Momentum, Carolyn Davis is a mover and shaker in Calgary’s community economic development scene. She’s also just been recognized by Avenue Magazine in the Top 40 Under 40, class of 2014.
It’s a good thing to know she stood out amongst the 400 odd nominations for “best and brightest in the city”. Because, while some of us were drinking beer and backpacking in our 20s, Carolyn was busy trying to make a dent in persistent poverty.
“Poverty is caused by many things, but it’s always about not having enough money. So at Momentum we work to grow the assets, financial and human of about 4,000 people per year one person at a time. We also identify and understand the barriers and send that info over to our public policy team so they can work on eliminating the barrier or issue at the root. So we have a feedback loop that enables us to deliver legitimate programming,” she says.
During the six years she’s held a leadership role at Momentum Davis has contributed to policy development processes such as the Calgary Economic Development Strategy, Calgary Poverty Reduction Strategy, Alberta Social Policy Framework and most recently the Social Innovation Endowment (2014). She’s also attracted over $3 million in philanthropic contributions, growing Momentum’s fund development portfolio five-fold under her leadership. Holding a senior role at Momentum she helped secure an innovation award from the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations and create the conditions for recognition as a Top 50 employer and Psychologically Healthy Workplace.
Carolyn and her team work to create the conditions for understanding poverty, by using story and policy advocacy (you’ll get the jist in this important article she wrote about supporting low-income families to save for education).
Articulate and heartfelt in her commitment to her work, Carolyn brings it all home for us in these closing words.
“This isn’t about being poverty heroes. As CED practitioners we believe everyone is vulnerable and everyone has assets. My route to Top 40 was relatively easy. On the next page of Avenue magazine, Jill Drader, a Momentum graduate, had a much different path. I’m not diminishing my accomplishment, just pointing out that for lasting community change, we will go further when we go together.”
Carolyn is also a graduate of the SFU Certificate Program for Community Economic Development hosted by Thrive.