Introverted (and extroverted!) editors can learn much from Gael Spivak’s volunteer journey.
Originally from Calgary, Gael belongs to Editors Ottawa–Gatineau. Her degrees in religious studies provided her with critical thinking, researching and writing skills that have served her career well. Currently she is a communications advisor, writer, editor and team supervisor at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
As an introverted new member of Editors Canada in 2008, Gael hesitated to engage with others. She challenged herself by helping with meeting sign-ins and discovered “it was a lot of fun!” Encouraged to take on more, Gael joined her branch executive, co-chaired the 2012 conference and joined the national executive council (NEC). From 2011 to 2021, she served in the director of volunteer relations, director of training and development, and vice-president positions, culminating in her role as Editors Canada president.
Gael says her goal while on the NEC was to make the volunteer experience “as positive and meaningful as possible for everyone.” That meant developing volunteer guidelines and a corporate calendar so nothing slips through the cracks. “Our volunteer work is important,” she says. “So it matters to document it and pass it along to those who follow us.”
Co-chairing the first international editing conference in 2015 was a highlight of her volunteer work. When asked what she enjoyed most, Gael says “Working with smart, creative, gracious and kind people who get what I am interested in and value.”
In addition to volunteering, Gael takes time for other interests, including plain language, the singular “they” and…squirrels. “My nickname for the first conference I co-chaired was Squirrel, a nickname I still go by,” she admits. This introverted yet industrious squirrel has come a long way to both her own and Editors Canada’s benefit.
The featured volunteer recognizes the contributions of our dedicated people who keep Editors Canada going. Volunteers are the backbone of the association, and we are grateful for the many members and affiliates who answer the call when help is needed.
Want to make a difference in your association? Find out more about volunteering for Editors Canada.~S. Robin Larin