If you are looking to broaden your network, develop your leadership competencies, and expand your knowledge in community housing and homelessness, then the 2020 Housing Professionals Mentorship Program is for you! HPMP is a collaboration between the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association, CIH Canada, and Housing Partnership Canada. Each year, the program connects leaders of today with those of tomorrow to strengthen the community housing and homelessness sector in Canada. In 2019, 70 professionals were matched across Canada—among them 100 % of mentees and 92% of mentors said that they would recommend the program to their colleagues.

Here’s what two Alberta locals, Zain Abedin (HPMP2019) and Martina Jileckova (HPMP2018) had to say about their experience with HPMP.

Meet Zain and Martina.

Zain is passionate about “making things happen for the greater good.” After a few years at the Alberta Rural Development Network (ARDN) managing research, and developing financial strategies and business cases, today he is the Director of Community Development where he works with rural communities to identify issues and provide solutions around housing and homelessness. This year, Zain joined HPMP as a mentee to learn more about what the housing sector has to offer.

Martina is the CEO of Horizon Housing Society. She is passionate about the Society’s mission of providing individuals and families an affordable place to call home. As a respected leader within the sector, Martina is committed to building strong partnerships with government, community groups, and other like-minded organizations. Through leadership roles with the Calgary Homeless Foundation and HomeSpace Society, Martina spearheaded one of the fastest expansions of an affordable housing operator in Alberta, growing from 11 units to 500 in just eight years. Martina joined HPMP as a mentor in 2018 to share her passion and knowledge of the sector.

Why did you apply for the Housing Professionals Mentorship Program?
Zain was new to the sector and wanted to learn more about career opportunities. He joined HPMP to “…get guidance from industry professionals in order to decide if this was where [he] wanted to stay and grow…” A selling point for Zain was to connect with “someone outside of [his] organization to bounce ideas off of and get some unbiased feedback.”

On the other hand, Martina joined HPMP as a mentor because: “[she] was attracted by the opportunity to connect with young professionals who will become the leaders of our housing sector. As a passionate advocate of affordable housing, [she] strongly believe[s] in igniting the passion and interest in housing in others by supporting their career development.”

What was your experience like during the program?
Zain enjoyed connecting with an experienced professional in the sector. He says, “I would recommend every young professional to apply and benefit from the knowledge that HPMP mentors have to offer.”

Martina says, “The program was very well organized and the match with [her] mentee was perfect. [They] chose to meet in person, which helped [them] develop a strong working relationship. The materials were very informative and sparked interesting conversations.”

How has HPMP impacted your professional development?
In Martina’s case, HPMP presented a learning opportunity just as much for the mentor as it did for the mentee. She says: “Our discussions stimulated my thinking and helped me reflect on my own leadership competencies.”

Zain completed HPMP feeling more confident. He says, “The mentorship has given [him] the confidence to interact and connect with senior leaders in the sector and it has exposed [him] to a huge sector that is making a difference in the lives of vulnerable individuals…” Although the program lasts six months, participants are encouraged to continue their relationship afterwards. Zain confirms that his relationship with his mentor “has lasted beyond the program” and is reassured his mentor is always “…just a phone call away”.

As with Zain and Martina, everyone joins HPMP with their own set of goals and works with their match to achieve them. If you are interested in becoming a mentor like Martina or a mentee like Zain, the Housing Professionals Mentorship Program is now receiving applications for 2020!

Make sure to apply online before October 31. If you have questions about HPMP before applying, CHRA will be hosting a webinar on September 19 at 1:00 p.m. (ET). Tune in to learn more about the program and how to apply. Register for the webinar. Register for the webinar online.

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