Saturday, 24 November 2018

New Executive Director of Alzheimer Society Wants to Give Back to Community

By Neil Armstrong

Photo contributed    Camille Isaacs-Morell, executive director of the Alzheimer Society of Montreal

Camille Isaacs-Morell, the newly appointed executive director of the Alzheimer Society of Montreal, is currently looking at alternative ways of raising funds for the organization.

As a not-for-profit organization, the Society is entirely funded by subventions and funds raised.

She says the corporate sector is highly solicited right now and it’s very difficult “to raise funds the way we’ve traditionally done in the past through big events and golf tournaments and galas.”

“We have to raise money from the community -- these are small donors and people with small businesses -- and we welcome all of that but we do need large sums of money,” says Isaacs-Morell who migrated to Montreal from Kingston, Jamaica in 1993.

She will guide the organization to meet the demand for services that will grow commensurately with the projected increase in diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease and related diseases.

The graduate of Immaculate Conception High School and holder of a BA in Language and Linguistics from the University of the West Indies says there is going to be a 66% increase in the number of persons diagnosed with Alzheimer, that’s nearly 900 to a million people across Canada having some form of dementia in less than 15 years.

“It’s really going to be a big crisis for our health system here in Canada, so that’s one thing. It’s not getting better and it’s not going away. We still haven’t found a cure and until we find a cure we have to provide services for the people with Alzheimer, as well as their caregivers, and support the health professionals in the work that they do.”

Isaacs-Morell was born and raised in Kingston, and after her postsecondary studies she worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade for eight years.

She then did an MBA in International Business and Marketing at the University of Miami at a time when she realized that international relations were going to be more driven by the private sector than by government.

Isaacs-Morell went back to Jamaica for a year and then migrated to Montreal.

After working for 20 years in the field of marketing, she felt that she had topped out in her career and wanted to do something different thus accepting the appointment as assistant executive director of the Alzheimer Society of Montreal last year

Isaacs-Morell was the director of corporate branding at Standard Life Company for its Canadian operations, this was before they sold out and left. She ran marketing campaigns and increased sales and brand awareness.

She did some freelance consulting for a while in between jobs because her position was cut at Standard Life. She was also senior advisor, corporate and content marketing at McKesson Canada.

The marketing expert found that she had a lot to give and also that “as a senior career professional approaching middle age people are not as willing to hire very experienced persons and pay them that salary.”

Her involvement in the not-for-profit sector allowed her to do some short mandates for the Salvation Army and other organizations.

 When the opening came up at the Alzheimer Society, she thought it was a good opportunity for her to use her business and marketing skills there and also to continue to give back to the society.

“I was raised by parents who made me realize that I was fortunate. I was very much aware that there were other people, other children who were not as fortunate as I was.”

She said her parents were very openhanded; her father was a teacher and then became a lecturer at CAST (now the University of Technology) and her mother was a civil servant.

“My parents were very clear with my sister and me that we were fortunate and we followed their example by always being encouraged to serve in some way.”

At Immaculate, she was also encouraged to give to the society and to use her talents in that way.

“Personally, I’m always curious to see what better looks like so that’s what motivates me,” she says.

In a notice of her appointment, Robert Beaudoin, chairman of the board of directors, cites Isaacs-Morell’s involvement in non-profit organizations such as the Anglican Foundation, YWCA Montreal, West Island Palliative Care Residence, Anglican Diocese of Montreal, Black Academic Scholarship Fund, Salvation Army, and Fondation des Arches du Quebec.

“She is an exceptional woman, but also a talented artist who expresses her creativity and values through her painting. There is little doubt, then, that art will be front and centre at the Society with Camille at the helm,” he said.

It was while going through a difficult time when she came to Canada 25 years that she started painting.

Between jobs she was walking down a street and saw that art courses were being offered somewhere. She immediately signed up and the rest is history, she says.

“It just comes naturally and a lot of my paintings that I do I sell a few but I do donate a lot to charities and to other worthy causes.”

Fluent in English, French and Spanish, she often communicated in the latter language when she worked at the foreign affairs and foreign trade ministry.

When former prime minister, P.J. Patterson went to Argentina and Chile she accompanied him on that trip.

[This story was first published in the North American Weekly Gleaner, Nov. 15-21, 2018.]

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