Meet SEWN member…
A New Hat
Donna McMahon has worn many hats, literally and figuratively, in her varied career and, having thrown her hat into the political ring, she is now the new Area E representative on the SCRD board, defeating incumbent Lorne Lewis.
She moved to the Sunshine Coast in 1996.
“We came to visit a friend who had a mobile home and it was affordable and lovely and near the beach and we were very taken with the whole thing. Then we went home to the West End and asked: ‘Why are we living here?'”
A lot of the work that Donna has done over the years falls into two main categories: administrative work to pay the bills, and writing work – fiction, non-fiction, journalism.
If you know Donna you know one of the things she is passionate about is explaining things clearly.
“It’s probably why I like reporting. I also did plain language legal writing for a while. Eight years ago I was hired as a business plan writer for Business Plans Canada which had an office in Gibsons at the time. I do writing, market research and financial projections. By now I’ve written plans for hundreds of companies across Canada and some international ones as well. You learn about everything; one week I’m working on a mushroom farm in Alberta, the next week I’m researching wedding planners or tire stores. I’ve written business plans for a hunting fishing guide business on Great Slave Lake, a snowmobile rental company in Labrador, a sports bar in Winnipeg, a hotel in Churchill and a number of tech start-ups.
The thing that’s really cool is when you find people who thoroughly know their industry and have this tremendous enthusiasm for it. You can write a terrific business plan when they know their stuff.”
Donna served on the SEWN board of directors for two years and focussed on helping the organization with clear communication, online and otherwise. She feels there is a huge appetite for networking among women working from home or trying to make a living here on the coast, and sees the value of SEWN as not just a business network, but a mutual support system.
“I’ve met a lot of interesting women and we have connected both for business and socially. For instance, we formed a little group in Gibsons that hikes together. We send spur-of-the-moment emails saying, ‘Help! I need to get outside!'”
Another volunteer role she enjoys is serving on the Loans and Investment committee at Community Futures.
“That’s been a wonderful window on how the business community on the coast operates. There are a lot of hard working people out there who put their hearts and souls into running their small businesses and they keep this community afloat. Amazon doesn’t sponsor the food bank or local sports teams or hold fundraisers for the volunteer fire department.”
Donna’s venture into politics follows two years as a reporter and photographer for The Local Weekly, which honed her interest in local government.
“We women sit around and say what a shame it is there aren’t more women in local politics but unless we step forward there won’t be any. I hoped someone else would take the plunge, but finally decided I would do it myself.”
What she brings to local government is the same skill set she brought to the SEWN table: business acumen, great depth in the community and knowledge of the issues. Plus the all important aspect of telling it like it is.