Turning 40 is a milestone for anyone, but for Mathieu Chantelois it was more than just a typical birthday celebration. In fact, for this Toronto-based executive, it was a day that would change his life. While sitting at his work desk, Mathieu felt a strong pull to start over fresh, and so he went with it, ultimately deciding to trade in his media career for something bigger – a job helping others in the world of nonprofit.

Let’s rewind to the beginning for a moment.

Mathieu Chantelois began his career in journalism as a TV and radio commentator, where he covered a range of social, cultural and political topics for TFO, Radio-Canada and CBC TV and CBC Radio. He also hosted two seasons of the Gemini-nominated show SoGayTV, as well as three seasons of Read OUT! and four seasons of COVERguy, a program syndicated in 16 countries.

Chantelois may be most recognized for his role in the Canadian reality television show The Lofters, which followed the lives of eight Canadians in their 20s who lived together in a Toronto loft for one year.A successful print journalist, Chantelois also published over 500 articles in addition to creating Canadian magazine, Le Magazine Famous Québec, where he managed the publication’s style, signature and voice.

Today, after his 40th birthday revelation, he is the Vice President of Development and External Affairs at Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, an organization which allows Chantelois to focus his passion and drive towards the good of others. 

What motivated your decision to switch gears from a media/journalism professional to non-profit executive?

For me, that day sitting at my desk realizing I needed to make a change was my own personal “ah-ha” moment. I’ve always wanted my storytelling to be impactful and to make a real difference, so I thought at this point, the best way to do that was through non-profit work. 

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How has your experience in media guided you along this new journey in advocating for Boys and Girls Club?

I think media experience, and I believe other industry professionals would agree, goes hand-in-hand with non-profit work. A large part of advocacy involves strong communication skills and the ability to write and execute marketing and public relations campaigns — not to mention, being able to tell a story. Since accepting my role at Boys and Girls Club, I have used my media experience to launch a number of high-impact campaigns including the PSA, “Kid of Privilege” which was picked up by Cineplex Media and several local radio and TV stations around the country.

What are some of the challenges you face in your current role?

Given that my role relies heavily on advocacy, I am regularly tasked with meeting with elected officials and politicians to gain funding in order to reach financial goals for our various programs. That can be a bit of a challenge as you can imagine, but I can be pretty persuasive. You have to be passionate about your product, and in this case, the product is our children. What’s more motivating than knowing the outcome could directly impact a child’s life?

How can we engage and encourage more millennials to get involved with social change?

Even for those millennials who are still paying off student debt or battling the cost of high rents, getting involved with social issues doesn’t necessarily mean donating money. As a whole, millennials can help in other ways like being generous with their time. They can also freely use their social media platforms to raise awareness for causes important to them. This generation wants to be involved in programs that benefit the greater good, and there are plenty of ways to help out.

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What do you hope to accomplish by your next milestone birthday? 

A lot of work still needs to be done. It’s my mission to make it a reality for underprivileged kids to get the help and resources they need to grow into successful, well-rounded adults. It’s also incredibly important for me to lead by example, which is why I’ve dedicated so much energy to supporting the relationships around me and making sure those people know how grateful I am for their guidance.