Home » Doing good: Jessica Pang-Parks — Director of Volunteer Engagement and Innovation, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada

Doing good: Jessica Pang-Parks — Director of Volunteer Engagement and Innovation, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada

Jessica Pang-Parks
Jessica Pang-Parks

Shortly after starting graduate school, Jessica Pang-Parks realized the laboratory wasn’t for her.

“Two weeks in, I was like ‘wow, I want to work with people, not algae,’” she recalls.

Jessica had recently moved to Ontario after graduating from SFU. She loved a lot of things about her undergrad: studying environmental science and biology, living and working on campus residences, talking with professors during class and office hours. The most logical step, Jessica figured, was to continue her studies at the graduate level. She realized, though, that the topics felt most alive for her while in conversation with other people.

As a result, she pivoted the focus of her thesis away from research and towards environmental education, eventually leading to her first post-grad job as a volunteer coordinator at World Wildlife Fund Canada. In November 2022, she became Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s director of volunteer engagement and innovation. Currently, through listening to and collaborating with the organization’s community, she’s planning a new direction for the organization's volunteer engagement strategy. Volunteers are crucial in supporting the programming and fundraising efforts of the organization, such as Camp Got2Go for youth living with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis and the more-than-60 annual Gutsy Walk events that local volunteers organize across the country. 

The work has a personal connection for Jessica, too. She was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis during her time at SFU. A professor was the one to encourage her to take a semester off to take care of herself—a caring gesture she feels driven to pay forward as an instructor herself, now teaching courses in volunteer management.

“I’m most proud of the moments in my career when I can make those meaningful connections.”


This story is part of our winter 2023 edition of Engage, our magazine celebrating the impact of SFU’s donor community.
To read more stories, please visit the Engage landing page.