“I’m lucky to see young people find their voice and understand that it has power.”

Ivan Canada, 38, Diversity Driver

Ivan Canada’s post-grad job in D.C. evaporated when the dotcom bubble burst. It was unfortunate, but fortuitous, because it led him back to his hometown – where he would reinvent himself as a leader of Greensboro’s young professional and nonprofit community.

He soon became an active member of the community, participating in Action Greensboro’s early efforts to engage young professionals in the city. From there, he began volunteering with other local civic and nonprofit groups and landed at the Guilford Green Foundation, an LGBTQ organization, as project manager and executive director.

“Greensboro is one of [fewer than] 15 cities in the country that has a dedicated LGBTQ foundation,” Ivan says. “It speaks to whatever the secret thing in our soil is. Why is it here and not in Raleigh and Charlotte?”

Ivan currently serves at the executive director for the National Conference for Community and Justice of the Piedmont Triad, a nonprofit that encourages respect and understanding among people of different religions, races, cultures, sexual orientations and socioeconomic backgrounds. Ivan considers his role to be very hands-on and varied.

“There are days when I am delivering programs, singing camp songs with high schoolers, having lunch with a major donor or running a board meeting.”

As one of the oldest human relations organizations around, NCCJ partners with school administrators, law enforcement, local businesses and the community at large on issues of diversity and inclusion.

“While we focus on bringing people together to learn from one another, we also try to use our voice to raise awareness about issues of bigotry and discrimination,” Ivan says.

Ivan’s favorite NCCJ program is ANYTOWN, a residential summer camp program that allows 138 Guilford County high school students to gain a deeper understanding of prejudice, discrimination and systems of privilege in our society.

“You can see the transformation that happens with young people in a week,” Ivan says. “I’m lucky to see young people find their voice and understand that it has power, and their actions matter.”

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