20 Dec Youth Central Alumni Profile: Matthew Berry
To mark this milestone Youth Central is profiling 25 of its alumni throughout the years. Youth Central’s Youth Are Awesome (YAA) program is helping out by interviewing and profiling the alumni. This article is written by RunLin Wang, one of the YAA junior editors.
Matthew Berry is a Youth Central alumnus who volunteered extensively on the Calgary Youth Foundation in both junior high and high school. He says that his time spent volunteering at Youth Central had a significant impact on developing his future career path.
Matthew graduated from Lord Beaverbrook High School and continued to pursue an undergraduate degree in International Relations from the University of British Columbia. He then completed his master’s degree in Public Policy at the University of Calgary.
Matthew has had a plethora of experience in coordinating external affairs throughout his career. He is currently the Director of Partnership Development at the Canadian Mountain Network, an initiative of the University of Alberta which works to promote research related to mountain regions. Prior to this, he worked at The Banff Centre and helped to raise funds for the Peter Lougheed Leadership Initiative.
Matthew has also had extensive experience working with governments. He worked for the Government of Canada in coordinating global affairs, including Arctic Council negotiations, and he also had the opportunity to work in Canada’s embassy in Washington, D.C. During this tenure, Matthew visited a variety of countries around the world, ranging from Brazil to Uganda to Israel. He also spent over a year as the Director of an office of a Senator, where he worked extensively on the crafting of bills related to the banking system.
Matthew found his work with the Calgary Youth Foundation invaluable for his future career. He found that he learned a great deal about program management and the responsibilities associated with it, which he would encounter many times in his career. Matthew says that his experience with Youth Central helped make his job much less intimidating. “With the Calgary Youth Foundation, it was only grants of $1,000 or $2,000, but my experiences taught me what to look for in a grant application,” Matthew explained. “In my current job, I’ve submitted applications for grants of over $20,000,000 in value, and having that prior experience with Youth Central helped me to get a head start in seeing what made a good grant application.”
Overall, Matthew Berry found his experience with Youth Central immensely rewarding, and encourages all volunteers to increase their involvement with Youth Central in a meaningful way. “You want to be able to make your experience more than just a one-off volunteer opportunity,” Matthew stated. “Don’t just show up, but actually take ownership of the program to get the most valuable experience.”
In addition, Matthew emphasized his appreciation for the networking opportunities that Youth Central provided. In partnership with the Calgary Foundation, Youth Central provided the opportunity for Matthew and a few others to travel to a conference held by Community Foundations of Canada. The conference brought together youth volunteer groups from across the country, and it aimed to inspire youth to do more in their communities. “We met Craig Kielburger at the conference, before he was famous,” Matthew said. “He sat and chatted with us like friends, and that was probably my most memorable experience with Youth Central.”