Eleanor Millar is the Director, Prairie Region & Campus Programming at CJPAC. She leads the CJPAC Fellowship Program and is our point person on all things campus.
How many years have you been involved with the CJPAC Fellowship Program?
Since the beginning in 2006! I started as a speaker while I was a political staffer in Ottawa. Then an amazing opportunity came up eight years ago
to work for CJPAC leading the Fellowship Program. To have experienced the program from different perspectives was a major advantage and I’ve worked hard to make sure that each year has been better than the last! Since the program started in 2006, we’ve trained over 300 of the brightest young political minds in Canada.
What do you look for in a potential Fellow?
Over the years, our Fellows have been incredibly diverse. Liberal, Conservative and NDP, male and female, Jewish and non-Jewish, political veterans and campaign newbies… But no matter their stripes, the one thing they have all had in common is a passion for Canada’s democracy.
When recruiting each new cohort for the exclusive Fellowship Program, we look for ambitious young Canadians with strong communication and interpersonal skills, wh
o are eager to learn, committed to respectful interaction and dialogue with people from different political parties and beliefs and who are willing to generously commit their time and energies to political involvement, as well as involvement with CJPAC and the pro-Israel community.
What does it take to get the most out of the Fellowship?
Coming into the program open-minded to all political viewpoints and practices – regardless of whether you have 10 minutes or 10 years of experience volunteering on campaigns – makes the experience more rewarding for everyone. The Fellowship is an intensive year of in-person sessions, video conference calls and informal opportunities. If the first question you ask me is “how much time is required so that I can work it in to my full plate of extra curricular activities” that makes me doubt that you’ll be able to fully commit to all of the extra opportunities CJPAC offers beyond the basic structure of the program. You’ll miss the spontaneous events, speakers and campaign breaks that make politics so exciting.
What makes the Fellowship conference so life-changing?
Where to begin! The people. The connections. The insight from experienced speakers. The career opportunities. Meeting other students who love politics as much as you do and finding your community.
Is it true that the Fellowship is a career-making program?
Over 100 Fellowship alumni have gone on to work in politics at federal, provincial and local levels. They have been connected to people across the political spectrum and expanded their networks through our Alumni. The transferable skills they learn throughout the program make them very attractive hires for employers, even the ones who work outside the political world (although we hope they stay connected to politics as volunteers!)
What is the most rewarding part of working with CJPAC Fellows?
The energy and enthusiasm the Fellows bring to each new year. I also love seeing the level someone joined the Fellowship at and then where they move to once the program has concluded. It’s bumping into Fellows years later who are still enthusiastic and remember sessions that were included in their year; it reminds me that this is the greatest job ever. There is a magical moment in each Fellowship year when everything comes together – the Fellows with each other, the CJPAC staff, the speakers, the knowledge. It’s almost an audible click and it’s an incredible feeling.
Do you keep in touch with Fellow alumni?
Absolutely! It’s been a privilege getting to know so many eager, enthusiastic and driven young people. I love seeing where their next steps take them and keep in touch with many of them on a regular basis. I’m proud to count some of them as colleagues – both at CJPAC and other Jewish organizations across the country. I’ve celebrated simchas with them – weddings, job promotions, election successes. Taking the time to get to know each Fellow personally is one of the most rewarding parts of my job.
What sort of guest speakers do Fellows hear from?
CJPAC counts current and former Prime Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament, senior staffers and political insiders among friends, and our Fellows have the opportunity to meet with many of them throughout the school year. We are very appreciative that they take time out of their busy schedules to meet with our students and share their expertise with them.