Mara Conrad has had a career in the public service for over 36 years. Following her retirement, Mara continues to give back to the community and public service through continued active volunteer work and her strong advocacy for the QCC.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do at the QCC?
I’d like to consider myself an active member. I have experience with leadership and governance in my previous role as a Director on the QCC Board of Directors. I was heavily involved then, but I’m still always advocating for QCC because I believe it has a very meaningful purpose for its members. For example, with ‘Connecting Matters!’ it provides the opportunity to meet new people and gain new experiences, which is what I’m all about.
When did you join the QCC?
My membership was automatic. I was a public servant working in the government of Ontario for 36 ½ years. I believe you used to become a member once you hit 25 years of service back then. A lot has changed now, I think for the better. I believe 25 years was a barrier to be honest, because who works in the same position for 25 years anymore? Not too many people have that privilege, so it’s nice that it’s now open to members upon gaining employment in the public service, in addition to the not-for profit and broader public sector.
I was always a goal setter even when I was active in the workforce. I made a pledge to myself that I wanted to continue to be active and set goals in retirement. That was eleven years ago, and I’ve maintained that goal. I wanted to continue the professional aspect of my career, but in a community-type of way. I always like to give back because I felt very privileged to work in the public sector. I want to contribute what I felt I’ve received throughout my career. I also always worked with the public and am a people-person.
What’s your favourite part about Coffee Time Chats?
I think the part about connecting with people, listening to their experiences and their perspectives about current and relevant topics. At the last coffee chat here in Windsor, we were online for an hour with the moderator, but after the call was completed, we stayed on the line for another 50 minutes. I also thought it was a new and adventurous initiative. I participate because I’m committed to the QCC, have a passion for the members and staff, also for the social element to stay stimulated, active, and for the fun of it!
Do you have any advice for people who might have hesitation about getting involved?
I would say have an open mind and give it a try. The QCC is very member centered, it’s focused on meeting member needs and growing its membership. It is a very accessible organization and has many offerings for members such as educational webinars, book clubs, events, and one of the most popular amongst members is the wide variety of discounts it offers, from electronics, clothing, savings on travel, and so on. My experience has been with involvement comes personal growth and experience. You might come out of it a better person with new information that you can take to different parts of your life. That’s what I found with the QCC. I think it makes me a better person, more well-rounded and provides me with many opportunities that I would otherwise not have. I did get family members involved too, my husband and son are members now. My son is actually one of the moderators for the Coffee Time Chats and he’s really enjoying it! To watch my son in action, carrying out his role in such an engaging way, makes me very proud of him. He uses the website and the discounts and is realizing all the perks of being a member.
Can you tell us about a time you truly felt a part of the community?
One of the fondest memories I have was when QCC held the AGM in Ottawa. I was the lead from the Board on planning that AGM back when they weren’t virtual. I brought along three other QCC members with me and we drove up to Ottawa. We had so much fun. It was very rewarding because of all the planning that went into it. It was a challenge for me as I was here in Windsor, ten hours away from Ottawa, not knowing what’s available locally in terms of resources or support. I did a lot of deep diving and digging and found a whole community there that was very helpful in assisting me. There have been so many great experiences. I encourage members to become active with the organization and enjoy the many venues that the QCC offers. It is constantly reinventing itself to stay current and relevant in order to meet the memberships needs.