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A New Calgary Program Redefines the “What’s Next?” Question for Boomers

A New Calgary Program Redefines the “What’s Next?” Question for Boomers

By Rod Garossino  

When I received my pink slip after 8 years in community investment in the oil and gas industry, I found myself out on my own after 20 years in a variety of agency, nonprofit and corporate jobs. I had a similar thought to what other Baby Boomers experience near retirement age, “What’s next?”

Fortunately, in one of those great “right place/right time” moments, I was recruited to become Canada’s first “Encore Fellow”, working with Social Venture Partners (SVP) Calgary to launch and promote the Encore Fellows program in Calgary – the first city outside of the United States to offer the program. Let me tell you what it’s all about.

Many Boomers, like myself, report wanting to move on from the 9-5 workday, but not necessarily from work. They want to contribute their expertise, but are looking for something that has a social purpose and thus more personal meaning. Meanwhile, as anyone involved in the nonprofit sector knows, there is a high need for skilled, affordable talent.

That’s where the Encore Fellows Program comes in. The program matches experienced, skilled professionals with promising nonprofits for a term of 1,000 hours (equivalent to half time for 12 months). The Encore Fellow completes a high-impact project that enhances the organization’s capacity to achieve its mission. Projects run the gamut – marketing/communications, finance/accounting, IT, HR, strategic & business planning, etc. Fellows earn $20,000, deliver significant value, and learn about working in the nonprofit sector. The organization benefits from the completed project and enhanced capacity; the Encore Fellow gains valuable experience that can serve as a stepping stone to a whole new and fulfilling stage of their career in the nonprofit sector.

Corporate involvement is the third level of the program, in addition to the Boomers and the host organizations. Corporations can include Encore Fellows as an extension of their community investment programs by providing funding to underwrite the cost of fellowships with organizations they already support. Companies can also incorporate Encore Fellows into their HR programs, offering retirement-eligible employees the opportunity to serve as Encore Fellows as a transition to retirement from the company.

Since the Calgary program launched in October 2014, we have matched Boomer professionals with Two Wheel View, Place2Give, and Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association – all of whom are utilizing the Fellows’ skills and expertise to expand and stregthen their organizations. We have a great variety of other organizations considering hosting Encore Fellows, including Boys & Girls Clubs of Calgary, The Alex, Youth Central, and Youth Singers of Calgary.

Any professional with at least 15 years’ experience and a willingness to contribute to, and learn about, the nonprofit sector is a candidate for the program. Currently we’re focused on the Calgary market, though with over 35 Encore Fellow hubs in the U.S. it will likely pick up momentum and move to other Canadian cities.

For me, the Encore Fellows program has been an extraordinary experience. It gave me an opportunity to be a part of bringing a new and impactful program to Calgary. It gave me a chance to leverage my networks in both the nonprofit and corporate sectors, as well as to contribute to the great work being done by Social Venture Partners (SVP), a global network of engaged philanthropists which includes affiliates in Vancouver, Toronto and Waterloo. I’ve especially enjoyed seeing people “lean in” to the conversation. It just makes so much sense and people really see the potential.

After completing my one-year Fellowship, I was retained on contract by SVP Calgary to continue managing the Encore Fellows program. The work gives me a strong sense of purpose and I’m loving it!

 If you’re interested in learning more about Encore Fellows, please reach out to me with any questions.

Here’s a video that shares examples of how the Encore Fellowship program works…


Rod Garossino became Canada’s first Encore Fellow in 2014, bringing over 20 years of experience in a range of corporate, non-profit and agency roles.

In his 8 years as a Community Involvement Advisor at Encana Corporation, Rod managed funding relationships with a wide range of community partners including SAIT, NAIT, U of C, U of A, Mount Royal University, Calgary Stampede, Alberta Children’s Hospital, Youth Science Foundation, Volunteer Calgary, and the Canadian Sport Centre Calgary, to name just a few.

Prior to joining Encana, Rod spent 5 years in non-profit fund development for such organizations as the Honens International Piano Competition, TriumphEnt Foundation and the Calgary Centre for Non-Profit Management.

Rod also worked with LANG & Associates, an international sponsorship marketing agency.  His diverse corporate and non-profit client list included TELUS, Coca-Cola, Neilson Cadbury, CTV Sports, NBA Vancouver Grizzlies, Tree Canada Foundation and the Calgary International Organ Festival.

Rod has been an active member of the Calgary Community Investment Council, and has served on a number of non-profit boards. He is currently a Governor of EducationMatters, chairing the Fund Development & Communications committee, and a Director of Skate Canada, chairing the Membership Policy Committee.

Rod has a Bachelor of Physical Education in Sport Management & Marketing from the University of British Columbia, and a Certificate in Corporate Community Involvement from the Boston College Centre for Corporate Citizenship.

Rod is very excited to be channeling this broad experience as Program Manager of the SVP Calgary Encore Fellows program. In this new role, he is working with Social Venture Partners Calgary to connect transitioning baby boomer professionals with non-profit organizations in high-impact capacity-building projects.

You can reach Rod at encore@svpcalgary.org.

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