This post is part of The Edmonton Do Gooder Project, a series of profiles on Edmonton folks doing good in creative ways.

1.     What is the good result you are hoping to create?

Intervivos exists to help young professionals and students in Edmonton become more informed  and engaged in our community. These people are leaders on the brink who want to be connected to some of Edmonton’s most influential and esteemed leaders. We’re seeking to inspire and inform the next generation of leaders, because there are a lot of really interesting young people without an avenue to make this happen in an easy, accessible way.

We want young leaders to stay here in Edmonton – Edmonton is awesome. We want people to stay and make it even better. Edmonton needs young leaders in order to keep moving forward, to not stagnate. That’s how we can grow, improve and reach the full potential of this city.

2.     What is your approach for making this happen?

We have two program streams : issues programming, and mentorship.

Issues programming consists mostly of events with speakers on topics relevant to young professionals in Edmonton. We come up with topics based on interactions with members, and have a few a year.

The mentorship program consists of twoevents a year to matche emerging leaders with seasoned leaders. The event component is set up in a speed-networking format to determine the  best possible matches for mentors and protégés. We have recently re-launched the program with this new approach  and so far we have been receiving very positive feedback.  We are expecting more pairings for our next event which is taking place in November. Our programs are revenue-neutral. We’ve moved away from sponsorship because we found it limited us a bit, in terms of our ability to address political topics. We operate as a non-profit society. We’ve deliberately decided against being an official charity, because it’s a big administrative burden with lots of limiting rules and reporting requirements. It just doesn’t make sense for us considering our current structure.

3.     What makes this issue/area the best fit for you personally?

I’m really not well suited to bureaucracy. I’m a more grass-roots and action oriented person. So I like the immediacy of the results that I see through Intervivos. I can see the results right away – tangible outcomes. I can see, for example, when people get hired as a result of the connections we’ve helped them make.

I studied political science, which contributes to my interest in the issues-based programming. In terms of qualifications, though, I’d say that I’ve grown into the role and developed skills along the way. I didn’t necessarily come into my role as President with a lot of applicable background.

However, I am just basically a people person. I love to connect people. When it comes to the people we’re looking to work with, it also helps that I’m one of them – a young professional. Before interVivos existed, I felt that gap. I felt a bit lost and directionless. So I can relate.

4.     How will you know if you’re making progress?

We’ve actually been discussing this in board meetings lately. One way is repeat attendance – retention of participants. Another is growth – attracting new people to the programs.

I’ve been involved in interVivos for 7 years. I’ve seen that people who are involved tend to stay, or if they leave, they come back. I think that’s some indication of success. I hear from people who leave Edmonton that their new communities are missing the element that interVivos brings to our city.

The fact that I never feel burned out on it all also says something about how well it’s working; the work is always fueling me, as opposed to draining me. Our strong alumni presence is also a sign of success. People who do leave don’t do it because of frustration or burnout. Other groups approach us wanting to partner, and our name recognition is growing. All these things are signs that we’re doing something right.

5.     What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

I would like to be doing more – more events, more mentorship.  Sometimes I feel bad about not doing more. But we have no staff, so capacity is limited.

We’ve learned that sometimes trying to be cool and innovative can go too far. It can be good to stick with things that are tested and true. A certain level of predictability can be a good thing.

interVivos doesn’t always do a great job of talking about our own successes. That’s something we could work on.

We did re-think the mentorship program. It wasn’t cost-effective the way it was, and not reaching enough people. Before, we only had 10 pairs of people in the program, and now we have between 30 and 40. It’s also become more equal between protégés and mentors, where it used to be very protégé driven. We basically took the best of what we’ve tried in the past and transformed it into a newer, more energetic and more dynamic program.