Delyse Sylvester


Delyse Sylvester's picture
Name: Delyse Sylvester
Organization: Changemakers
Title: Director of Marketing
During my freshman first month I had a choice to make. My professor stated he could give me an ‘A’ on an essay because it was well written but he felt compelled to mark it a ‘D’ because "it lacked heart". He offered me another week to reflect on my passion for change. He said, "There is really only one role I have as a teacher - to inspire you to reveal your life’s mission”. He went on to discuss that anchoring ones life with a clear framework was the most compelling place from which to create, write and share. I took him up on the offer. I've had many mentors like Dale, who have nudged me on my journey as a Changemaker. My mom, a nurse, built the first hospice centre in our region. My Dad, a professor and College President, advocated for First Nation studies programs and accessible funding for vulnerable communities. My siblings, friends, community and now my children are empathetic leaders. I had a great many people to honor in that first essay and now many more who have joined together to make commitment to change that matters. As a member of Ashoka's Changemakers, my network has expanded to a global community and an even stronger framework of “everyone a changemaker world”. It has been the most nourishing community to make social change happen more quickly and more profoundly. Asking a friend to get the last ticket to the Amnesty International Film Festival a month in advance or standing in a packed room to hear how shrimp farming is devastating the coast line of Bangladesh - I am continually amazed by my home of Nelson BC. We are a beautiful remote rural community that has passion and commitment to make a difference. From a very early age our kids are supported to run their own coop radio programs, raise funds to build schools and pay teacher salaries in areas of world that they care deeply about, sing, dance, perform to packed houses and standing ovations. We’ve secured huge stretches of park land, launched sustainable forest practices that have inspired IKEA, outbid Wal-Mart to secure land for seniors and low income housing. Whatever the challenge my community stands ready. Cross country skiing, swimming in the clear lakes and camping give time to reflect on why it is so important to care and to act. At university, Delyse began volunteering with local groups focused on international deforestation and First Nation treaty processes. She later joined Canadian Crossroads International in India where she volunteered at a shelter for women survivors of domestic abuse. After returning to Canada she worked in the fair trade movement and became Co-Chair of the BC Council for International Corporation and Board member of Inter Pares. Delyse worked for six years at CUSO, Canada’s oldest and largest NGO preparing Canadians for placements oversees and then as the Western Canada fundraiser. After 8 years as the Executive Director of Advancement and Development at Selkirk College, Delyse now leads Ashoka’s Changemakers Community Team creating compelling campaigns and messages that invite millions of changemakers to care and to act. She brings the lessons of successful fundraising and social marketing to inspire individuals, corporate leaders, media mavens, community organizers and enthusiasts to make a personal commitment for themselves and their loved ones as active members of the Ashoka community.