Magdalene Cooman

Magdalene Cooman

 Community Pillars

Magdalene Cooman is a community builder and an inspirational leader who has been serving the community of Ottawa since her arrival as a newcomer in June 2003. Currently, she is the Director of Employer Engagement with World Skills Employment Centre (a non-profit organization whose mandate is to connect immigrants to employment opportunities) and is a known champion for the economic integration of newcomers in Ottawa. She has conceptualized and developed several initiatives which have bridged thousands of newcomers with employment opportunities; developed and implemented training programs for frontline staff to have a better understanding of newcomers’ needs; and has worked with World Skills to develop proposals that have garnered millions of dollars towards improved programming for newcomer initiatives.

As an entrepreneur and an author, Ms. Cooman has inspired hundreds of citizens in Ottawa and beyond “to believe in oneself, to tune into their passions, and to step up to live their souls’ missions.”  She owns and operates Simplified Training and Facilitation (a business that provides inspirational leadership training to individuals and organizations). In addition, she is the author of Mags Magazine, launched in Ottawa in 2014, that provides personal growth and inspiration. She is an advocate for living life fully from the soul— both in her career and in her personal life – and her blog provides an inspirational space for anyone who is seeking encouragement.

Magdalene Cooman is also a philanthropist and in 2019 she was part of team of five friends who raised over $5,000 to assist a friend for the treatment of Lyme disease.  She is also partnering with a women’s co-op in Saint Lucia to provide support in the marketing of locally grown coffee.

In October 2003, a few months after arriving in Canada, Ms. Cooman wrote a concept paper about the challenges immigrant women were facing in Ottawa and presented it to Immigrant Women Services Ottawa.  Six months later, she was awarded a contract to implement a program for women that she called, “Finding More Than a Job!” This project provided a six-day empowerment program for immigrant women who faced barriers such as emotional and physical abuse, homelessness, lack of support, being single parents, etc. Over the course of the year, she worked with over 150 women who first came into the program feeling broken and who left with high spirits and a can-do attitude. She developed a full training manual and a participant’s workbook for the program that has been subsequently used by other facilitators to continue supporting immigrant women and their integration into the community. Two years later, she developed another training program called ‘Money Matters’ for Immigrant Women Services Ottawa.

From April 2005 to presently, Ms. Cooman has continued to work with World Skills Employment Centre. She started as a part-time employment facilitator and accelerated into the ranks of management.  By 2007, she was the Manager for an initiative called Career Access for Newcomers; and in 2009, she was promoted to Director of Employer Engagement. She has also served as Acting Executive Director twice. Summarized below are some of the key achievements that she has made within this organization in her capacity as Director of Employer Engagement. 

In 2009, she led the Ottawa Job Match Network (a program focused on integrating highly skilled newcomers into the labour market). This program has bridged hundreds of newcomers with employment opportunities and created a network of over 300 employers who are engaged in the hiring of newcomers.

In 2010, she initiated a Corporate Mentorship Program in Ottawa with TD Canada through its diversity initiative for visible minorities and in 2017 she replicated the Program model for Accenture Consulting.  Collectively, these two programs have enabled over 300 newcomers gain access to executives and employment opportunities, improved their understanding of matching their skills to Ottawa’s labour market and helped grow their professional networks. In addition, these programs also provided hands-on, practical experience for executives that have broadened their understanding of inclusion and diversity.

Also in 2010, through a collaborative effort with Immigration Refugees Citizenship Canada, she assisted in shaping the Federal Internship for Newcomers Program (FINP) that provides workplace experience for newcomers. This program has grown nationally with over 24 departments and over 750 newcomers who have been hired through this initiative.

In 2018, while on sabbatical from World Skills and devoting time to growing GEMS Hospitality and Tourism Development Ltd., she developed a highly successful internship program in Rwanda for young people who wanted to work in the tourism sector.

In 2019, she led a new initiative, Empowering Newcomer Women to Succeed in the Canadian Labour Market, which assists 450 women newcomers to facilitate labour market access. As part of this program she launched the ‘Circle of Champions for Newcomer Women’ in Ottawa which has already attracted over 100 champions.

Some of her awards and achievements include receiving a Community Leader’s Award by Immigrant Women Services in 2009; becoming Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of Immigrant Women Services Ottawa in 2014 and Chair of the Board in 2015; and author of Mags Magazine where she has published two magazines in the series, Live Your Future Now (2014) and Soulful Encounters (2016).  Her third issue, Legacy, will be launched in 2020.

Magdalene Cooman has made a positive difference in her community and to the citizens of Ottawa by creating strategies to help newcomers access employment, build their professional networks and develop their careers. She has also supported employers in Ottawa through a better understanding of the pool of newcomer talent that is available in Ottawa and by providing the mechanisms for these employers to easily access that talent.