Job Title:Co-Leader & Director of Communications
Grad Year:2001
Degree(s):M.A. Applied Language Studies
Expertise:Communications, Non-Profit

What makes you a good mentor?

I don't have a lot of free time to give, so I'd like it to be purposeful, and mentoring is a great opportunity for me to make a difference. I also like that it can happen more organically than setting an arbitrary schedule of meetings. I am happy to meet in person but also appreciate that mentoring can happen through email or social media channels, as I am highly accessible in that fashion. I support mentoring because it is a way to learn in ways that formal education cannot provide. Not all of my real-world experience will be directly relevant to every mentorship match, but I hope to always demonstrate that my understanding of the opportunities and barriers to translating career and life passions into real actions and outcomes is useful.

About Keenan Wellar

I’m co-leader and one of two members of the Executive Staff team for charitable organization LiveWorkPlay, which is based here in Ottawa. I co-founded the organization with my wife Julie Kingstone back in 1995 as a volunteer advocate for people with intellectual disabilities and their families, and it turned into a career in 1997 which continues after 18 years. The organization has grown slowly but steadily and is currently in an expansion phase, surpassing 15 full-time staff. I recently authored a 20th anniversary commemorative book for LiveWorkPlay “The Courage to Fail, the Will to Succeed: Twenty Years of the LiveWorkPlay Experience 1995-2015.”

On an operational level my job is Director of Communications, and I run the full gamut from social media channels to webmaster to formal processes such as proposals and reports. I graduated with an MA in Discourse Studies (then known as Applied Linguistics) from Carleton back in 2001. In 2010 I completed the Professional Certificate in Non-Profit and Public Sector Marketing from the Sprott School of Business. In 2014 I was honoured to receive the Social Media Organization of the Year award from Community Living Ontario, having been selected from more than 100 possible recipients.

I’m an active volunteer in my community and currently much of my focus is on supporting the Belonging to Community priority at United Way Ottawa where I serve as a Focus Area Champion. I also engage in a great deal of informal or non-traditional volunteerism, such as the management of advocacy-based support groups on Facebook.

I work in the non-profit sector and also am required to interact with various levels of government with great frequency, but I have a highly entrepreneurial spirit and enjoy engaging with the business community. My first full-time career was with a start-up information technology company developed by Carleton engineering students. I care deeply about my community and have particular causes about which I am very passionate, but I am also enthusiastic about marketing and business development in all sectors, and enjoy working closely with business owners and managers through about 50 partnerships that have been developed with LiveWorkPlay.

I am also interested in governance issues, and obtained my Certified Governance Trainer qualification from BoardSource in 2014. The charity sector is facing some very interesting and serious challenges and traditional governance models are generally not up to the task. I currently do some consulting work with non-profit agencies that are working to change their model of service (LiveWorkPlay is leading-edge in person-centred supports) but I plan to extend my consulting work to include assistance with boards and governance. It won’t be so much about re-writing by-laws, but more about re-thinking what boards spend their time on (way too much attention to past-focused fiduciary issues and not nearly enough strategic and generative thinking and actions).

I am a proud new resident at Lansdowne and enjoy the urban lifestyle as well as getting away to the wilderness or a coastline for some hiking and kayaking.