Michelle Lackie

Michelle Lackie brings over 20 years’ experience in non-profit management, strategy and leadership, personnel management, curriculum development, facilitation and training to her teaching. She is currently the director of Exchange Inner City, a community economic development organization that works collectively to create an inclusive local economy in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Throughout her career at international non-profit organizations, Michelle held various senior roles successfully leading departments through organizational change, managing complex budgets and developing strategic outcomes to meet organizational missions. In addition to high-level strategic efforts, Michelle was also involved in writing grant proposals and reporting, project visioning and implementation, communications and recruitment.

Michelle’s foundational philosophy is grounded in building trusting and supportive relationships based on accountability. Her expertise comes from years of managing diverse personnel to achieve success in their areas of responsibility and personal growth.

Michelle has an MBA in non-profit management from the Heller School of Social Policy at Brandeis University, a bachelor of education from McGill University and a certificate in Experiential Jewish Education from Yeshiva University.

Q&A with Michelle Lackie

Can you tell us what you do in your current role?

As the director of Exchange Inner City, my goal is to strengthen the conditions for a vibrant and inclusive local economy in the DTES. I've developed a logic model to clearly depict the outcomes we intend to achieve and the strategies to get us there. Logic models also provide the foundation for developing metrics to mark our progress.  As it is for many directors, a significant part of my role is building relationships with leaders in the community and making connections between organizations. Since I take a macro and long-view of community economic development, it is important that I spend time understanding trends, goals, needs, etc in the community. And just as importantly, I spend my time convening and engaging various stakeholders, whether they be non-profit leaders, local residents, social enterprises, social purpose businesses, or government staff and officials. Each day is different, but the themes remain the same – building a stronger infrastructure to support marginalized populations in accessing income generating opportunities. 

What’s been the highlight of your career so far? 

That’s a tough one! I think visioning, developing and implementing service-learning volunteering opportunities for over 3,000 university students in the Gulf Coast post-Hurricane Katrina. Students spent a week helping to rebuild homes, roofs, etc., meeting with those impacted by the hurricane and the activists working to help them.

Why do you think your Strategy and Leadership course is important, and who can benefit from taking it?

Leadership is something we learn, as well as being a part of who we are; one impacts the other. Understanding the strategies of being a leader, understanding your own leadership style—whether it is where you are today or where you aim to be—and grounding your work in values you believe in, is integral to the success of the non-profit sector. Anyone looking to strengthen their own leadership skills and understanding of self, or those looking to better articulate what they already know and do intuitively will benefit from this course.

What do you hope students will take away from your course?

I hope students will walk away with tools they can use to effectively lead and influence others—peer colleagues, a team, a department, an organization. Just as importantly, I hope students use the time and resources from the sessions to truly understand their own leadership styles, adapt, strengthen and make corrections where needed, and set themselves on a course to be the leader they wish to be.

With the non-profit sector hit hard by the pandemic, do you have any advice for non-profit leaders about facing adversity?

Having lived and worked in the United States for 15-plus years and recently returning to Canada, I see how values are impacting decisions made everyday because of the pandemic. I encourage everyone to balance the “bottom line” with valuing the dignity of all people. Which to me means understanding we don’t know everyone’s situation or story, and our decisions may have momentous impacts on others. Think carefully, be honest and be understanding.

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