Lourdes Juan is a Calgary-based entrepreneur and Urban Planner, with a Masters in Environmental Design, who oversees dozens of staff and hundreds of volunteers at the diverse companies and non-profits she has founded including Soma Hammam & Spa, Hive Developments, Leftovers Foundation and Fresh Routes. Shocked at how much unsold bread a single bakery in Calgary had at closing time, Lourdes founded Leftovers in 2012. Today, the large charity works with hundreds of Alberta restaurants, bakeries, and grocers to keep tons of edible food out of landfills annually, by repurposing it through partnerships with local businesses, or redirecting excess food to hungry Canadians who need it the most. Leftovers currently operates in Alberta and Manitoba with plans to expand globally.
My first job ever was… I was 14 and I started working at an architecture company. I did everything from making blueprints on an ammonia printing machine to gluing carpet samples on presentation boards.
I chose my career path because… For the Leftovers Foundation, I saw a lot of food about to go to waste and I was compelled to offer a solution. I wanted to help as much as I could and that meant mobilizing the community.
When starting out, I wish I knew… that good things take time and that’s ok. Small steps each day add up to powerful strides.
The part of my role that I love the most is… working with teams that are equally passionate about community work, people, and the planet.
The biggest challenge of running a not-for-profit is… Non-profits have limited resources and the problems we tackle are huge, so even though we are making a difference, I wish we had the capacity to do more.
If you Googled me, you still wouldn’t know… how much I love Star Trek.
My best advice from a mentor was… Keep a close group of subject matter experts as mentors to help make decisions and problem solve.
My advice for anyone who wants to build a not-for-profit is… Work alongside the community, listen first and solve problems together. Non-profit work should be the most collaborative work you ever do.
One thing for-profit businesses could learn from the not-for-profit world is… how to contribute meaningfully to solve complex problems.
I stay inspired by… Being witness to community members working together. I love to see it!
Success to me means… waking up excited to take on the day!