Meet YMCA’s VP Health and Wellness

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: Shannon Doram

Job title: Vice President Health and Wellness

Job description: I am the lead for our Health and Wellness strategy, and healthy living program development for YMCA Calgary. I am excited to be involved in the development of the ‘Wellness Centre’, a special project at the new South Health Campus. My day-to-day work includes working closely with YMCA staff (promoting health inside the YMCA), our partners in health promotion, and representing YMCA Calgary on various projects and health-related committees.

Background: My role is actually a very new role to the organization and I have been in my job for just a little over four months! I have an undergraduate degree in kinesiology from the University of Calgary and a graduate degree in health promotion from the University of Alberta, School of Public Health.

The most important part of my job is: To lead and establish a strategic direction for health promotion at the YMCA that engages staff, volunteers, members, participants and our greater YMCA community in an effort to do this together! Understanding the health-related needs and interests of groups we work with is an important first step in doing this, especially with new projects related to healthy living.  Evaluation is an important component, and we will be measuring the outcomes of our work.

The most challenging part of my job is: Exploring the many facets of the YMCA (since I’m still ‘new’ to the organization) and learning where we have the greatest opportunity to help improve people’s health. Starting new initiatives and projects is always an exciting challenge and coordinating the many people, partners and ideas keeps me on my toes!

The best part of my job is: Being able to see the difference the YMCA makes in people’s lives, and knowing that my work is an important part of their journey with us. The opportunity to help people set a strong foundation for health that will help them into the future is an important part of what motivates me.

The best piece of advice I was given: My best friend once told me, “Honour your truth, and act with integrity”…. It’s been an important guidepost for me, which essentially means, do what you love and with good intention, and you can’t go wrong.

Not a lot of people know that: I spend most weekends in the mountains, either hiking, cross country skiing, trail running or cycling on my road bike.

If I wasn’t working at the Y I would be: On my bike! I love the feeling of being out on the road, with nature and going fast.

Five words to describe me: Dedicated, excitable, determined, fun and happy!

Weakness: Licorice Allsorts (the mini ones). My grandma was from the UK and I picked up a love of sweets from her.

What the Y means to me: The Y provides an important opportunity for people to spend time together with their families, for individuals to improve their health, and for communities to come together. The culture of the Y is one that supports people ‘where they’re at’ and provides support and encouragement to realize potential. It’s a special place.