Fabulous Female Friday – Amanda Alvaro
I’m so excited to be featuring Amanda Alvaro, Managing Director, Narrative Advocacy Media. She’s a strong, powerful woman who I totally admire and feel inspired by. Without a doubt, Amanda is a fabulous female.
Amanda and I went to high school together. My most vivid memories of her include seeing her at the top of a human pyramid dressed in blue and gold cheering the Titans on to victory. Today she is still cheering for the causes she cares about the most.
Thank you Amanda for sharing some of your time with us.
Please meet Amanda:
Tell us a little about yourself.
First, let me say thank you for including me on your amazing blog!
I guess the most accurate way to describe me would be to say that I’m a woman who is on the go ALL the time. I’m probably at my happiest when spending time with family and friends, hiking, boating or packing for the next adventure. But I also keep pretty busy running a Toronto-based PR and Advertising business, engaging in politics, and pursuing a dream of building arts schools in developing nations.
It’s a hectic life but it’s full of surprises, lots of excitement and very few dull moments in between.
Take us down your career path to present day.
My first job after University was as a junior press secretary to Barbara Hall during her bid for Mayor of Toronto. It was a defining time in my life. It solidified my passion for politics, my love of Toronto and my desire to follow in the footsteps of some extraordinary female leaders.
The path from there has been pretty fortuitous; a four-year stint as Communications and Issues Director to the Minister of Education, Gerard Kennedy, followed by an intense year of helping him run for Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.
After those years entrenched in political life, I was asked to join Toronto-based Ad agency Bensimon Byrne to launch their newest subsidiary, Narrative Advocacy Media www.narrative.ca.
I’ve spent the last four years building this incredible company with some of the most talented communicators in the country. Along the way, I took a five-week leave to act as the media advisor to the Premier of Ontario in the last provincial election and I’ve had the opportunity to start two amazing initiatives: Ad Women of Toronto and Artbound.
Still unable to leave politics completely, I now get to keep one foot in the door by acting as a political commentator on CTV and other news outlets.
What has inspired and motivated you along the way?
Working in politics exposed me to an extraordinary group of fearless female leaders. Their strength and talent was intoxicating. I knew from the moment I stepped into Queens Park, I was hooked on the thrill of politics. But along the way, I’ve had some absolutely essential constants in my life – a very close group of girl friends (some dating all the way back to highschool in London) and a big, close knit family.
Finally, for your readers at City Mom, you’ll appreciate that my biggest inspiration remains my mom; A woman who bravely battled breast cancer and taught me to live life in a big way, take risks to get where you want and do it all without regrets.
Tell us a little about Ad Women of Toronto.
I’m really proud to be a founding member of Ad Women of Toronto. Fashioned after a model developed in New York City, the idea was to create an organization that would support, mentor, celebrate and inspire women in advertising.
Just two years old, it already has an impressive following of seasoned executives and first year ad rookies who meet over speaking engagements, gala events, workshops and debates on hot industry topics! Visit www.adwomentoronto.ca.
Can you tell us about Artbound and your recent trip to Africa?
Founding Artbound, in support of Free the Children, has been one of the most inspired undertakings of my life. The purpose of the organization is to build arts schools in needed regions around the world to help combat child poverty by developing skills that create sustainable opportunities for underprivileged children.
This past January, Nelly Furtado joined our group of young Canadian leaders to build our first school in Kenya and introduce 40 very special Kenyan girls to music, dance and fine arts. It was easily the most moving experience of my life.
In September, we’ll hold our second major fundraiser (the pARTy) to help us achieve our funding goal to build our next school in India! Visit artbound.ca and stay tuned for a new CTV documentary featuring Artbound this summer!
How do you manage your busy career and your personal/family life?
A good collection of wine! Just kidding…sort of. I’m pretty good at finding balance. I travel often, as I believe that the best way to get away from work is to actually get away! I make lots of time for the goodness of family and friends and find many excuses to be social in a city that offers so much in the way of dining, entertainment, the arts, fashion and active living (a few of my favourite things!). Now, all this might change when I have kids of my own, but for now, I’m managing to squeeze it all in.
What advice would you give to other women who want to pursue their career goals?
I’ve always believed that the biggest rewards are the result of taking some big risks. I’m not a ‘if it’s meant to be, it will happen’ kind of person. I’m a ‘if you want it, put yourself out there and make it happen’ kind of person. And, it’s worked for me because I love the challenge of doing something that seems a little impossible. It’s not for everyone, but it’s what drives me every day.
Do something that scares you a bit!
What’s the last song you listened to on your iPod?
Someone Like You, by Adele – for the ‘get focused and chill’ moments
Pump It by Black Eyed Peas – for ‘making it through my workout’ moments!
What’s the last book you read?
One Day by David Nicholls – absolutely fantastic read!