Interview with DiverseCity onBoard Appointee Eddie Villarta
“I find it encouraging and fulfilling to be surrounded with people from different backgrounds who are passionate and dedicated to give back and make a difference to our community.”
Manager, Network Services, Carleton University
DiverseCity onBoard’s appointee Eddie Villarta is an Information Technology professional from Ottawa, with more than 20 years of experience in banking, logistics, and higher education industries. Eddie is passionate about giving back and has been involved in the Ottawa community in several leadership roles–including his most recent appointment to the board of Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Center. We spoke with Eddie about his experience getting his first appointment and the benefits of volunteering on a nonprofit board.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Please tell us about your professional background and board experience.
I’ve been working as an information technology professional for 22 years now. I started my career as a computer field engineer in the Philippines and worked at several multi-national companies across industries such as technology, banking, logistics, and business process outsourcing, before immigrating to Canada. My current role is Manager of Network Services at Carleton University.
My appointment at Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Center is my first board experience in a big organization but prior to that I gained board experience at the Rotary Club of Nepean-Kanata.
How were you introduced to DiverseCity onBoard, and why did you choose to get involved?
I responded to an advertisement about DiverseCity onBoard and was immediately able to get in touch with Ulyana Zanevych who is the DiverseCity onBoard Program Manager here in Ottawa.
I decided to get involved because I believe that governance bodies of public agencies, boards and commissions, as well as voluntary organizations, should reflect the diversity of people who live and work in the area it serves. It’s also a way for me to be able to give back to our community.
You were recently appointed to Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Center. What is your interest in their board and organization?
Although my professional background is information technology, I have great interest in health care and I believe that healthy people will result in healthy communities.
Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Center is an organization that not only delivers programs and services for physical health but also supports the mental and social well-being of the people it serves. It also recognizes the importance of health equity and works on that framework to ensure that people in the community will have access to health programs and services needed to achieve their full health potential.
What are some of the personal and professional benefits of being on a board that you have experienced?
I find it encouraging and fulfilling to be surrounded with people from different backgrounds who are passionate and dedicated to give back and make a difference to our community.
I have learned a lot by listening to different perspectives on issues and concerns that are put on the table for discussion. And being new, the rest of the board is very supportive. The organization itself dedicates time and resources for a board member development program.
What value do you bring to a board? What impact do you have?
The value I bring to the board is my years of work experience and background coming from a volunteer service organization.
Has the DOB governance training contributed to your effectiveness as a board member? In what way?
I have gained valuable skills and knowledge that have allowed me to become an effective board director. The training materials cover topics that are essential to both prospective board directors and those already performing board director functions.
Board Essentials allowed me to learn the depth and immense nature of the not for profit sector in Canada. Previously, I did not realize the huge impact the not for profit sector has on our country, not only in terms of economic benefits, but also the impact of services delivered to communities. The different life cycle stages of an organization helped me to understand the current stage of the organization on whose board I serve.
Why do you think diversity on boards is important?
It’s important because it provides an environment where fellow prospective board members and program facilitators can come together to collaborate and share their experiences and knowledge. This enables them to become better board members.
Connecting prospective board members and organizations looking for board members is equally important too because it save time for both parties.
Were there any challenges you faced in joining a board prior to being a part of DiverseCity onBoard? What advice would you give to others who are looking to get involved in leadership and join a board?
I had not tried to join a board until I was involved with DiverseCity onBoard. The DiverseCity onBoard program provided me the knowledge I needed and encouraged me to apply to board positions.
My advice to others who are considering joining a board is to find an organization that does work in areas that you’re most passionate about. It is also important to understand that it takes time to know the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of the organization that you just joined. And lastly, there are committees within the board that you can volunteer on and contribute even more.