Executive Director at TD Friends of the Environment
Master in Environmental Studies 2000
"Keep your mind open to the possibilities – I never thought I would work for a large corporation but in my current role, I have both the mandate and the resources to support meaningful environmental programs right across Canada. If you concentrate on the kind of change you want to make in the world instead of the title you want to have, you might be surprised at what opportunities exist."
About Carolyn Scotchmer
How would you describe your years at FES, and did the program prepare you for your career? How?
The MES program really gave me the flexibility to create a program of study that filled the gaps in my experience and built the foundation for my career. Coming out of a BSc in Biology, I had a strong background in conservation science, but knew that I needed to know a lot more about planning, economics and social psychology to be able to successfully work with on-the-ground projects. The program provided the space to do that and really set me up to get involved in community work. And of course, I graduated with a ready-made network having spent 2 years getting to know others aiming to work in similar fields.
What’s your favorite/most memorable memory of your time at York University?
My favorite memories are really of working on group projects or in study groups where it was possible to combine learning with fascinating discussions, a great social network and a lot of fun.
Describe your post-graduation journey including experiences such as employment, volunteer work, community engagement projects.
It took me almost a year after graduating to find a related job, and like many, when I did it was a short-term contract with a non-profit organization. But I jumped at the opportunity to be working on hands-on community-based restoration stewardship projects and gained a lot of great experience as that short-term contract turned into 6 years and evolved from the role of a Project Coordinator into that of a Program Manager, culminating in the opportunity to move to Calgary to open a satellite location for the organization. After taking a 2-year break to live and work overseas, I returned to Toronto as Executive Director of a small environmental organization in Parkdale. Through the connections I made at that role, I then secured a role as Regional Manager for TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, leading to my current role as Executive Director.
What is your current job title, or project you are working on, and how would you describe the work you do in a typical day?
As Executive Director of TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, I'm not sure I have a typical day. In my role, I responsible for overseeing the Foundation and our Canada-wide, grassroots granting program as well as TD's corporate environmental giving. One of the things that I love about my work is the birds-eye view I get of environmental work taking place right across Canada and even in the Eastern US – there's a lot of hope in seeing all the amazing people working hard to solve environmental issues and to know that, with the resources of my organization, I can help make some of it happen.
Generally, my days consist of a lot of meetings, both with TD's internal teams and with the groups that we fund. As with most ED positions, I can go from a meeting on legal contracts, to one with a team of marketers, to a conversation with a group running nature camps for kids. It keeps my work varied and interesting.
If you could leave current students with a piece of advice, what would it be?
Keep your mind open to the possibilities – I never thought I would work for a large corporation but in my current role, I have both the mandate and the resources to support meaningful environmental programs right across Canada. If you concentrate on the kind of change you want to make in the world instead of the title you want to have, you might be surprised at what opportunities exist.