The Benefits of being a Partnership Broker, with Executive Director Debbie Clark

To solve complex societal issues, more organizations are turning to collaboration, especially cross-sector partnerships. While receiving input from many different sectors is valuable, it can be difficult to adjudicate every opinion and personality that enters the partnership. The worst case scenario is making the effort to bring these voices together, but results falling short of expectations.

Because effective partnerships are both highly regarded and difficult to manage, the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations along with JS Daw & Associates and the International Partnership Brokers Association are hosting Partnership Brokers Training – a 4-day course that will teach you the knowledge and skills required for maintaining successful partnerships.

To understand the benefit of Partnership Brokers Training, ECVO spoke to Debbie Clark, executive director of Edmonton Community Adult Learning Association (ECALA), who took part in the course in October 2015. ECALA helps individuals access non-credit educational opportunities throughout the city and provides programs and services as well as grants and funding.

ECVO:  As an Executive Director, how do you use partnerships and collaboration in your workplace?

Debbie Clark: As a granting counsel, we work with many different agencies in the city and we see our role as building partnerships and strengthening the sector. We also deliver the best programs we can for our learners. This training is appropriate because it allows us to be in a partnership broker role, which is different from what I’ve done in the past. It’s looking at partnerships in a different way.

ECVO: How have partnerships changed throughout your time in the nonprofit industry?

Clark: The whole concept of partnership and collaboration has evolved and changed. The concept of being a partnership broker allows us now to take a hard stance when you need to move a partnership forward. This course really affirmed some emerging theory that has come out worldwide. The opportunity to experience this in Edmonton is invaluable.

ECVO: What was your experience taking Partnership Brokers Training?

Clark: It was a very full week! There were lots of different activities going on and there was something there for every style of learner. You meet people and make lots of connections you can use later in your work. There were people representing all different sectors.

Some of the information was affirming to what I was currently doing and some of it blew what I thought I knew out of the water.

Definitely a training that ranks high with me compared to some of the courses in my MBA research.

ECVO: What was your largest takeaway from the training?

Clark: The ability to work through so many case studies that were very realistic to our world here in Edmonton as nonprofits. The way they delivered the program, I’m often reflecting and encouraging conversation around the issues we run into here based on what I learned at training. The room was very rich in experience and knowledge, even from participants. I often reflect on those case studies and what I learned from training.

ECVO: Who do you recommend enroll in Partnership Brokers Training?

Clark: If you’re on the fence, or if you’re already partnering, you will still learn so much about how to broker partnerships in this program. The work will pile up, but it is well worth the time to be able to take this program and I can’t wait to take the second phase and get accredited. This is new and emerging theory and we are very fortunate to have this is Edmonton. This a great chance for anyone wanting to build more partnerships, getting into it for the first time, get promoted within an organization or build professional development. You can also use the training for your own personal development goals as an individual and a leader.

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