Career Insight


Posted: July 20, 2017

By: Natalie Ebel


Careers that Change Lives: Working in the Not-for-Profit Sector


It takes a certain kind of person to tackle the field of not-for-profit – Someone who is generous, driven and above all, passionate about helping others.

Western Continuing Studies instructors Jackie Ellefsen and Carol-Ann Smith have these traits in common, and it is their generosity, drive and passion for helping others that has propelled them throughout their career and teaching.

Jackie currently works as the Executive Director and Lead Fundraiser at the Thames Valley Education Foundation, a small but mighty organization that funds special programs for students in the Thames Valley District School Board.

“It is the best job ever,” says Jackie. “Really!”

Carol-Ann has worked in the not-for-profit sector for 35 years. Over the course of her career, she’s held a variety of positions including child and youth counsellor, community developer, family advocate within healthcare, education, community and government services, and social entrepreneurship in education. 

She’s now the CEO of a company she recently developed called I3cd – Innovative Community Developments. Its focus is building mixed-use housing by creating innovative, intentional and integrated communities. 

And as if that’s not enough on Carol-Ann’s plate, she’s also a Social Enterprise Coach with the McConnell Family Foundation, where she assists non-profits that are looking to explore or start a social enterprise.


What inspired you to get into the Not-for-Profit sector?

Jackie is a Continuing Studies student-turned-instructor, having previously graduated from the Not-for-Profit Management program. When asked what inspired her to enter the field, Jackie said that she was driven to help people, but it quickly became so much more than that.

“You start to meet amazingly passionate people and discover that the work itself is not just challenging, but creative, exciting and collaborative,” says Jackie. “At the end of the day, you've helped someone, but it's the journey that really inspires you.”

For Carol-Ann, her inspiration came from a more personal experience. She too was drawn to the not-for-profit sector to help others, but it was when her mother passed away when Carol-Ann was just a teenager that she felt compelled to help others who may have experienced something similar.

“I honestly don’t think there is a more rewarding career,” says Carol-Ann. “I may be a shameless idealist at heart, but what drives me is being able to look at a problem, explore it, and then create a solution. Being a change maker is the core to who I am.”


What advice would you give to someone looking to work in the Not-for-Profit sector?

“Ask questions. Not just to your instructors, or colleagues or people that work in the field, but ask your donors why they love your organization. Ask your clients about their struggles and their dreams. The more you know about the people who use and support your organization, the more passionate and successful you'll be as a fundraiser.”

Jackie Ellefsen


“I believe our Not-for-Profit courses at Western Continuing Studies are rich in content and have a very practical hands-on approach, which is critical when looking to launch your career. You need to roll your sleeves up and immerse yourself. As your educator, it’s really important for me to provide you with the opportunity to gain an understanding of what’s really happening in the field and most importantly, be given the knowledge and tools required to get you started!”

Carol-Ann Smith


Courses taught by Jackie Ellefsen

Fundraising and Development – Professional Certificate in Not-for-Profit Management

Development and Fundraising for Not-for-Profit Organizations – Diploma in Not-for-Profit Management


Courses taught by Carol-Ann Smith

Introduction to the Not-for-Profit Sector – Professional Certificate in Not-for-Profit Management

Business Administration – Professional Certificate in Management

Organizational Behaviour – Diploma in Human Resources