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Lacombe FCSS leader introduces Charity Coffee Chats podcast

Lacombe’s Crystal Zens, executive director of the local FCSS branch, has launched a new podcast aimed at helping not-for-profits reach new heights of success.
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Lacombe’s Crystal Zens, executive director of the local FCSS branch, has launched a new podcast aimed at helping not-for-profits reach new heights of success.

Called ‘Charity Coffee Chats’, Zens has teamed up with a former colleague Tim Bennett for the project, and the two are having an absolute blast as they share from their combined 50-plus years of experience in the non-profit sector.

“Over the years, I’ve done a lot of workshop speaking and have been invited to talk at seminars or online platforms,” explained Zens.

“I’ve always loved teaching about things and sharing my experiences in the charity sector.”

She certainly has reams of experience to draw from

“My first directorship of a not-for-profit was in 1995. So over the years, lots of things have evolved and changed, but one of the things I have loved is the new world of technology, podcasts, and learning.

“I think it’s so awesome how we can be connected all over the world!”

Bennett, now based in Prince George, is a former colleague of Zens and is currently a leader with Scouts Canada.

“He was executive director of Big Brother Big Sister of Prince George, and one year, we had both been invited to give workshops and presentations at BBBS of Canada in Toronto. So the first time we met was at a Blue Jays game,” she added with a laugh.

“Over the years we have stayed very connected — he is a creative leader that I really admire. He’s got great ideas and had very healthy and positive teams.”

Zens said she asked Bennett if he’d be open to collaborating on a charity podcast, and he was immediately interested.

“I think it’s hard to find not-for-profit podcasts that are in Canada, and that are relatable to everyday, real-life work,” she said.

“We’ve called it Charity Coffee Chats, because we wanted it to be casual and fun, and to offer really usable tools and ideas that people could easily implement.”

Zens also sees it as a terrific means of giving back.

“Together, we have over 50 years of charity-sector experience. But I think the most important thing to know is that you never stop learning and growing. And certainly, I learn every day from other leaders.

“It’s also a way to connect people in our sector, and our sector is very unique. It’s a pretty empowering place to be part of the community and leverage everything that we can to make our communities the best places to be for everybody — basically changing the world one day at a time.”

There is a new podcast to tune into every other week.

“Our very first series is called the Culture Code, and we will also be doing another series called Leading with a Purpose, and Transforming Technology in the Charity Sector,” she said.

“It’s a lot of fun, and I think that if you are a creative person, you love what you do. We are both very passionate about the not-for-profit sector and we are also very open to helping others and receiving help from others. I think it’s the perfect recipe for really fun podcasts!

“I also learn so much from Tim during our podcasts.

“We have different experiences from our walks of life, and (it’s great) to share those teachable moments and things that have helped us to lead successful charities. It’s been really rewarding.”

Feedback to date has also been very encouraging.

“I’ve had employees from 15 or 20 years ago reach out and say, ‘I’m listening to the podcast, and I miss working for you! It’s very kind and it inspires us to keep it going for sure.”

Charity Coffee Chats is available on Spotify and Apple platforms.

Mark Weber

About the Author: Mark Weber

I've been a part of the Black Press Media family for about a dozen years now, with stints at the Red Deer Express, the Stettler Independent, and now the Lacombe Express.
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