Job Title: President, InterVivos Mentorship Society of Alberta; Policy Analyst, Alberta Urban Municipalities Association
Why She’s Top 40: She heads up an unconventional networking organization that connects people to one another – and to community issues.
Guilty Pleasure:Fashion: “I really like getting cool and quirky necklaces, cool printed dresses and stuff. I like going to see drag shows.”
Zohreh Saher remembers handing out cheese sandwiches at the Bissell Centre as a young child – it was the sort of thing her family did often. “Volunteering is something that was instilled in me as a child,” she says.
She’s carried this habit into adulthood. By day, Saher works as a policy analyst for the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, supporting and advocating the interests of members to the provincial and federal government. During her off hours, Saher organizes events for local art gallery Latitude 53 (she chairs the special events committee) and leads the board of InterVivos, the not-for-profit networking group she helped create in 2006.
Around that time, Saher was a new grad who had been involved with a Canadian Unity Council youth committee that was disbanding. Seeing the need for a socially minded networking group for young professionals, she and several other committee members decided to create something new. They called it InterVivos – Latin for “From one person to another.”
Eight years later, the organization connects young professionals to one another, but also to mentors. “The idea is that a mentor is a neutral person – they’re not your family, your friends, your boss or your employer,” says Saher. “They have no vested interest beyond making you a better Edmontonian, a better leader, a better professional.”
But Saher is hesitant to describe InterVivos as a networking group. “We have a much deeper purpose than that,” she says. Many of the events the organization hosts are meant to foster involved citizenship. In the past, InterVivos has hosted non-partisan luncheons along with featuring talks about Idle No More, citizen engagement and the 2013 mayoral race. The ultimate goal is to foster leadership, not just career development.
Over the years, Saher has watched the group’s alumni network grow – and her own, too. “The thing that keeps me there is the ability to connect people. That’s a big thing for me, connecting young professional to young professional, young professional to mentor.”