Lloydetta Quaicoe is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Sharing Our Cultures. She established the organization in 1999 in response to the findings of her research, “Psychosocial needs of new immigrant and refugee school children.” She holds a PhD in Education from the University of South Australia, Division of Education, Arts, and Social Sciences. Her areas of specialization are newcomer children’s education, acculturation, and belonging. She is passionate about providing opportunities for school children to be heard, seen, respected, and valued. In addition to being an award-winning leader, she is the creator, executive producer, and host of a multicultural television program on Rogers TV, the Chair of OMNI East Advisory Council for Ontario and Atlantic Provinces, and Co-Chair of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police NL Black Engagement Steering Committee.
My first job ever was… with the national Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service. I was hired as a television announcer and read the news when the scheduled newscaster did not show up for work. Shortly after, I convinced the studio manager that I could produce and host a weekly television program, with children and for children, which I did for five years.
I chose my career path because… I wanted to do something that I was passionate about and that made a positive impact on the lives of children and youth. I enjoy what I do, and I can do it for hours without getting bored or tired. The skills and experience that I gained hosting a children’s television program in Sierra Leone sparked my passion to continue working with school children, which I’m still doing today in Canada.
When starting out, I wish I knew… that the work would grow easier with time. Twenty years ago, developing networks in the community was challenging and time consuming. Now, I have leveraged those social networks and collaborative relationships with community leaders to increase the efficiency of my organization.
The part of my role that I love the most is… creating environments for school youth to nurture friendships and develop a sense of belonging. I am energized by conversations with youth as I encourage them to share their challenges and successes. I am inspired by observing newcomer youth overcome social isolation to develop self-confidence, friendships, and leadership skills.
The biggest challenge of running a not-for-profit is… the lack of core funding. This leads to spending significant time writing proposals and the uncertainty of whether you will have sufficient funds to execute the necessary programs and projects as envisioned.
If you Googled me, you still wouldn’t know… that I like listening to Motown music and watching figure skating, even though I don’t know how to skate! Seriously, whenever someone shares with me that they are being treated unfairly or if I discover that they are experiencing systemic barriers, I feel compelled to help them find appropriate long-term solutions.
My best advice from a mentor was… “To your own self be true and you would not be false to anyone.” This has encouraged me to be my authentic self in my daily interactions.
My advice for anyone who wants to build a not-for-profit is… to get lots of sleep before starting! Value the importance of building community networks and nurturing collaborative relationships.
One thing for-profit businesses could learn from the not-for-profit world is… flexibility, inclusivity, and community connections. The lack of core funding that some not-for-profits experience fosters an environment of nimbleness and the need to rely on a variety of partners to be successful.
I stay inspired by… the remarkable resilience of newcomer school youth I am privileged to work with every day.
Success to me means… advocating for social change that results in positive outcomes for vulnerable individuals, particularly newcomer children and youth.