Big city girl thrives in Community Investment role

Muna Yussuf is widely respected, by her colleagues at The United Way of Fort McMurray, volunteers on the Community Investment Committee, and the many agencies with which she works so closely.  With an unassuming demeanour and a bright smile, she is a strong member of our team, and a passionate advocate for the “Change Starts Here” message of United Way.

Q.  What is your role with United Way and why do you enjoy it so much?

Muna: My role at the United Way is a Community Investment Coordinator. I’ve been in this role for a year and half. It’s not just a job for me; knowing your job is building a stronger and more resilient community is one of the best feelings. Hearing the stories from the agencies and how their clients are overcoming challenges and are on the road to success makes the hardest days enjoyable.

Q.  What is your background, and how did you come to be working here?

Muna: Since childhood I wanted to make a difference; I wanted to “change the world”. Growing up seeing my parents struggle and ultimately be successful shaped me into who I am. My background is Political Science and I had dreams of one day working for an international NGO (non government organization) helping out the most vulnerable.

Q.  There has been a significant shift in terms of your department and how the Community Investment Committee works with the agencies. Can you describe the new approach and how it has been received?

Muna:  The staff at United Way and the volunteers in the Committee have made a concerted effort to make the investment process friendlier and easier to navigate for the agencies. Overall, the direction has been to strengthen relationships and increase collaboration. The agencies have noticed the change in our approach and we’ve received a lot of positive feedback from them.

Q. What role does a team approach play in operating a successful United Way organization, and how would you describe our current team?

Muna: A team approach is critical for the success of The United Way. The staff work collectively to strengthen the overall organization. Every staff member has certain skills and expertise, and we try and utilize these where they fit best. We work very closely together and we’re extremely lucky because everyone gets along so well. When you feel that your teammates care about you beyond your life at work, it feels more like a family.

Q.  What are your interests outside of work?

Muna:  I’m a family oriented person. When I’m not working I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I also love experimenting in the kitchen.

Q.  Having grown up in Toronto, what is it like living in northern Alberta? What do you like?  What do you miss about the big city?

Muna:  Coming from a large city like Toronto, it can be hard to adjust to Northern Alberta. My experience living in the community has been filled with highs and lows. The winter and short days can be lonesome, but living in this community has provided me opportunities for personal and professional growth I may not have experienced anywhere else in Canada. This community continues to surprise and amaze me on how generous and compassionate the citizens are.

Author: Russell Thomas

​Russell is a marketing and communications professional who has spent 20 years in Wood Buffalo working with the OK Radio Group, Keyano College, Arts Council Wood Buffalo, and now with The United Way of Fort McMurray. A regular blogger, Russell's writing can be seen online ( and in multiple publications. His paintings can be seen in homes and businesses throughout the community. Married to Heather and "Papa" to Dylan and Ben, Russell is a passionate spokesperson for United Way.