‘Some day’ will never come unless you just start

Karmin Hovde reflects on her roles as Chair of ECF’s health and wellness subcommittee and Awards & Bursaries committee

Karmin Hovde grew up in the mountain village of Valemount, west of Jasper National Park, but didn’t stay in B.C. after high school. Unlike friends who went west to Vancouver, Hovde headed to Edmonton to study nutrition and food science at the University of Alberta.

The city has been her home ever since. After finishing her first degree in 1999, Hovde developed a successful career as a clinical dietician before moving into health-care administration and management consulting (she earned an MBA in 2013). She is now an accreditation advisor with Alberta Health Services, helping hospitals and other facilities prepare for audits from the national organization that oversees safety and quality standards at healthcare sites.

Hovde also lends her time and talents to a number of community organizations, including Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF).

“For the longest time, I didn’t volunteer,” she says. “I thought, ‘I’ll do it some day’ — but ‘some day’ will never come unless you just start.” She became involved with ECF in 2015 after hearing about a vacancy with the health and wellness subcommittee (of the Granting Programs Committee) through a family friend who had served on that committee.

Although she didn’t know much about ECF at the time, Hovde decided to give it a whirl and was sold after just one meeting. Each quarter, she and the other subcommittee members meet to discuss grant proposals and select the strongest proposals after plenty of lively discussion. “You just get so many different perspectives,” she says. Since 2017, she’s served as chair of the subcommittee, which means she takes her team’s recommendations to the Granting Programs Committee.

In addition to her work with the subcommittee each quarter, Hovde is also Chair of the ECF Awards & Bursaries committee, which reviews scholarship applications each year and also involves lively discussion.

As much as she loves volunteering in both roles, Hovde sometimes gets a pit in her stomach from passing on certain applications. Her biggest piece of advice for charities applying for funding is to respond to the questions ECF sends out. Often, these questions get missed, she says, probably because nonprofits are so busy.

Hovde’s terms with the health and wellness subcommittee and ECF Awards & Bursaries committee will come to an end in the spring and summer of this year. However, she’ll continue to be an active volunteer in the community, helping organizations like the Edmonton Horticultural Society (where she currently serves as secretary of the board).

“There’s so much you can learn in any volunteer role,” she says. “Learning is my oxygen and, however I can get it, I’ll take it. Plus, it just makes me feel good to contribute to great organizations.”