Community mobilizer Mark Egbedeyi-Emmanuel to lead 2023 Campaign

Introducing the United Way 2023 Community Campaign chair, Mark Egbedeyi-Emmanuel

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“I like to be a part of things. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines and complain. So, I’m always asking myself, how do we effect change? How do we resolve community issues?”

Mark Egbedeyi-Emmanuel
General Manager, EPCOR
United Way 2023 Community Campaign chair

Mark Egbedeyi-Emmanuel is natural gas general manager for EPCOR and the incoming chair of the United Way 2023 Community Campaign — the first chair to hail from Elgin County. Based in Aylmer, Mark has a long history of embracing and championing community causes in every community where he has lived and worked. 

Mark holds a degree in mechanical engineering and worked for the Nigerian Gas Company and British Gas before moving to Canada in December 1998. He is married to lawyer Ellen Oluranti Imotseme Egbedeyi-Emmanuel and together they have raised three children and are proud grandparents. Mark is an avid cricket player and fan.  

In his own words, some of Mark’s story:

Tell us a bit about how you landed in Aylmer.

I started working for a manufacturing company in Toronto, and then established a training program in quality assurance in Kitchener-Waterloo. In 2002, I was hired by Union Gas to be quality assurance manager for the entire operation, with my team reporting to me from Windsor up to Thunder Bay. But as an engineer, I wanted to be in field operations, where you were installing pipes and managing the assets in the ground, and that’s when I moved to Windsor Essex / Chatham-Kent to be district manager, and later to Hamilton-Halton. 

I joined EPCOR four years ago. Our natural gas pipelines serve East Elgin County and we are just completing a transformational project in Bruce County to provide natural gas to tens of thousands of residents.

Everywhere you’ve gone, you’ve embedded yourself as a volunteer, from Toastmasters to Victorian Order of Nurses to local chambers of commerce and United Way. Why? 

I like to be a part of things. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines and complain. So, I’m always asking myself, how do we effect change? How do we resolve community issues? How can we help people who are in need, how can we, in this moment, make this a better place for everybody? 

These things don’t happen by themselves. They happen with people being involved. The little we can do, even at a grassroots level, will definitely go a long way in making that change take place. 

I also think my wife has come to know that, yeah, this guy can never stay still. We both believe in being involved in the community. 

As incoming Campaign chair of United Way Elgin Middlesex, what pressing needs do you see?

There’s housing security, of course, and many other basic needs that go hand-in-hand, such as food and clothing. 

I look at homelessness as one big thing; every time I drive through the downtown St. Thomas, it is always jaw-dropping for me. Some people will say, “I’d rather not go downtown,” but if we don’t go there, we risk forgetting that homelessness exists. 

We have to be where the needs are. 

We might not be able to solve all the problems, but maybe we’re able to solve a part of the problem. 

So how do we go about finding solutions to existing and emerging challenges?

First of all, I don’t look at them as challenges. They’re opportunities. One of my earliest opportunities as an engineer in Nigeria was a huge gas pipeline project – a 36-inch diameter gas pipeline that was 340 kilometres long. It was supposed to take three years to complete. When we got a mandate from the president that it had to be done in just one year, the managing director told us to come up with a plan. Some people said, “No, no, that’s impossible, it cannot be done.” 

We actually completed the project within one year to provide natural gas to Nigeria’s main power generating plant. 

As a young engineer, that was a defining moment in my life: Don’t tell me we can’t get it done. We’ll get it done. We’ll just have to figure out a way by developing a shared plan. 

So, back to United Way. One of our opportunities is to bring back into the fold our small-town communities: the agricultural community and people in Aylmer, Belmont, Dorchester, Ilderton and Strathroy, for example. 

We want to address their growing needs and also motivate their good reasons to give because we know that everyone needs help sometimes and everyone can give help sometimes. 

And that’s true whether you work on a farm or in an office or at a factory, whether you live on back-country roads or in an inner-city shelter. 

This EPCOR office is an example of that giving in action

We are a small but mighty team here, and we have more than quadrupled our giving in the past five years. 

We also want community-building to be a part of our leadership, so last year we introduced a barbecue for all our neighbours in the industrial park. The response was phenomenal.  

We went to the local No Frills and they said everything we needed was on them. It was quite encouraging how the community rallied around it. 

Some of them said they’d been thinking of doing the same thing for years; they were just  waiting for someone to take the lead. So that’s one of the things we learned: People can share the same vision, they just need someone to lead and mobilize them. 

For this campaign year, I’m confident that with all of us united and working together, with the campaign cabinet, hundreds of volunteers and agencies and donors, we can achieve great things in this community. 

What is the most important advice you’ve received?

My dad was a pragmatic philosopher and he said to me one day: “The only people who are not learning are the people six feet below ground. If you are alive, you must be learning at least one new thing every day.” 

Wherever I go and whatever I’m doing, I try to learn every day. 

Meet our 2023 Community Campaign Cabinet

Mark Egbedeyi-Emmanuel
General Manager, EPCOR
Campaign chair

Alyson Paisley
VP Direct Distribution, Intact Financial Corporation,
Past Campaign chair

Don Beauchamp
Manager, Central Operations, Enbridge Gas Inc.
Campaign Ambassador

Brian Carlos
Business Representative, LiUNA Local 1059
Campaign Ambassador

Erika Chamberlain
Professor and Dean, Faculty of Law, Western University
Campaign Ambassador

Jennifer Costa
Senior Manager, Assurance, PwC
Campaign Ambassador

Amy Gibbons
AVP, Marketing, Canada Life
Campaign Ambassador

Kelly Hancock
CFO, Ivey Business School
Campaign Ambassador

Melissa Holden
Manager, Mobile Mortgage Specialist, TD Canada Trust
Campaign Ambassador

Kristen Korhonen
Regional Vice President, Greater London-Sarnia, BMO Bank of Montreal
Campaign Ambassador

Jordan Millward
General Manager – One London Place, Sifton Properties
Campaign Ambassador

Jason Monahan
VP & General Manager, General Dynamic Land Systems – Canada
Campaign Ambassador

Elisabete Rodrigues
Executive Director, LUSO Community Services
Campaign Ambassador

Renee Shave
Principal, B. Davison Secondary School
Campaign Ambassador

Chris Smith
General Manager, Owner, Robson Moving & Storage
Campaign Ambassador

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