A love of 4×4 trekking and a weakness for chips… meet YMCA Vice President Children and Youth Tanis Cochrane

Volunteer blogger Beka Sharrock has been getting to know some of the personalities who make up the senior leadership team at Calgary YMCA, finding out what drives them to work for the YMCA and the person behind the job title….

Name: Tanis Cochrane

Job title: Vice President Children and Youth

Job description: I am at the head of children and youth services at a strategic level, often dealing with external partners including United Way, Upstart and Calgary after school. I am involved in the impact and evaluation of the difference we are making for children and youth. I also have responsibility for communications, both within the Y and externally.

Background: Today is actually my YMCA anniversary – I have worked with the organisation for 14 years today. (All staff get an extra day off for their YMCA birthday each year). I graduated from the University of Alberta with an education degree and have always worked with children although I have never formally taught in a classroom.

The most important part of my job is: to support the measurement of the impact we are having as an organization on the health and wellbeing of children and youth, whether in a licensed child care program, a swim lesson, or at our residential camp. The Strong Kids campaign fits into that, raising dollars so all children and youth can experience the Y and have opportunities to belong, grow, thrive, and lead.

The most challenging part of my job is: determining the realm of impact that the YMCA can have on the health and wellbeing of children and youth. There are some issues which we do not tackle, like homeless youth. There are other agencies that are work with homeless youth and we might be able to play a small role in supporting that work. The challenge is to know what areas we are involved in and should be involved in.

The best part of my job is: getting to hear and see the difference we do make for children and families. It is about the relationship and people in the community and all the opportunities to engage with the people.

The best piece of advice I was given: was from my dad – do what makes you happy and live according to your principles.

Not a lot of people know that: I enjoy 4×4 trekking through the back country and camping – we have been to Alaska a couple of times and also Inuvik.  It is quite a lot of fun.

If I wasn’t working at the Y I would be: playing golf! I’d rather be retired and playing golf for fun than a professional golfer – I could play when I wanted to then.

Five words to describe me: kind, fun, determined, balanced and laidback.

Weakness: Any potato product made into something unhealthy – chips, fries…..

What the Y means to me: it is an opportunity to work in an environment that aligns with my personal values and to be a part of an organisation that is making a difference in the community.


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