Job Title: Executive Director, Alberta Students Executive Council (ASEC), and Community Leader
Why She’s Top 40: For dramatically raising the profile and budget of a provincial student lobby group, advocating for youth and downtown revitalization as a member of Edmonton’s NextGen, and linking urban foodies with rural food growers through her 10 Mile Meal project.
What Do You Like Most About Edmonton?: “My favourite place in the city is when you’re driving up Gateway Boulevard and you hit Saskatchewan Drive, and the whole river valley unfurls before you.”
Not one to stay on the sidelines, Carol Neuman hit the ground running when she arrived in Edmonton with her husband in 2008. First, she accepted a job as the head of the Alberta Students’ Executive Council in 2009, advocating for 180,000 post-secondary students from across the province.
In the last few years, she’s grown the organization’s budget from $80,000 to $750,000. She also worked with the province to create a $1.5-million mental-health innovation fund for campuses, supporting counselling services and also initiatives like puppy rooms during exam time (playing on the idea that animals reduce stress) and mental-health awareness campaigns.
Outside of her day job, Neuman became involved with Edmonton’s NextGen, a multi-faceted community-building organization. Via NextGen, she’s helped organize a “speed-dating” themed candidate forum during election time and a microfunding dinner in support of local initiatives, ranging from entrepreneurial initiatives to art projects. As a member of EEDC’s Downtown Vibrancy Task Force for the last three years, she’s helped create awareness campaigns like the 2011 Downtown X-posed symposium.
Neuman is also a board member of LitFest, Edmonton’s non-fiction writing festival (which brought sex columnist and author Dan Savage to town in October), and the creator of The 10 Mile Meal Project, which connects food eaters with food growers via meals hosted at local community halls. “Local food is more than just ingredients: It’s about people, stories and traditions,” says Neuman, who was raised on a farm near Pigeon Lake.
While Neuman has a schedule that would give most people a panic attack, she feels good about being busy. Seeing her efforts impact the community in a real way is enormously satisfying. “I like being able to see an idea going from something sparkling around your head to something happening in the real world. There’s incredible power in seeing something come to life.”
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