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I guess being the longest (not oldest!) employee in the company helps with the “corporate memory” and I would surely hope that it also gives me credibility!

Annie Larouche

Director of Foundation and Community

Montréal Alouettes

× The interview with Annie Larouche was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

1Tell us about your role as the Director of Foundation and Community Relations for the Montréal Alouettes. What does a typical day look like for you in your current role?

My role is to build and maintain relationships with the community and our fans. It is also implementing community outreach programs, organizing events, fundraising, coordinating volunteers, developing community engagement policies for our employees, and booking our players, cheerleaders and coaches. 

But it also entails to stay up to date with the latest local and global issues in order to make our presence more meaningful and make a positive impact.

The Foundation’s mission is to promote school perseverance, so we work closely with school boards and different stakeholders to maximizes our impact by focusing on solutions adapted to the needs and realities of students from different schools, in different environments.

Through our main program, Together at school which started in 1998, players visit over 60 high schools annually reaching out to over 10 000 students every year.

Who better than a sports team where players have university degrees to motivate and inspire young people to stay in school?!

We are also involved with the CFL in regional and national projects to raise awareness on issues such as bullying and violence against women.

There is no such thing as a typical day in my role!! I can be in the office answering phone calls and emails, in a hospital visiting sick kids, in a school with players for our Together at school program, in a meeting with our board members, visiting a new venue for an event, distributing Christmas baskets, dancing with our Junior cheers, at the stadium getting ready for a game and so much more!

Whatever I do, you will always find my right-hand woman Sidney not too far!

Every project/program involves a lot of details, planning, follow up with different departments and partners, negotiation and scheduling and most of the times, we’re running 3-4 projects at the same time!

There is never a dull moment and it is a privilege to be able to connect directly with the fans and to meet so many extraordinary people who, without even knowing, have a strong impact in your life.

2What does it mean to you to work with the Montréal Alouettes for over 20 seasons?

It means having a second family…25 years is a lot!

When you work with someone for 10-15-20 years, they are a lot more than co-workers, they become friends for life. I know it might sound cliché but it really is a second family!

I started when I was 24 years old as the cheerleading team coordinator and back then, I was the youngest cheer coach in the CFL!

25 years later, I am the director of the cheerleading team, Alumni Association, Foundation and community relations! I am proud to have broken through in a man's world and to have earned the respect of my colleagues.

It also means making a difference… Community involvement has always been in the Alouettes DNA and it is very gratifying to know you are sometimes part of the solution.

It is an honor and a privilege to be part of the Montreal Alouettes.

3How has the length of your career benefited the way you’re able to interact with the community, partners, and other stakeholders?

The fact that I’ve been there so long helped me build a wide network of contacts throughout the whole country, the United States and other sports leagues, and maintain long-lasting relationships.

Having in-depth knowledge of what the other departments are doing within the organization, allows me to better identify the needs and expectations which makes it easier and more efficient when it comes to implementing a new project, agreement or policy.

I guess being the longest (not oldest!) employee in the company helps with the “corporate memory” and I would surely hope that it also gives me credibility!

4You’re right, 25 years is a lot! With that experience, what would you say are the top 3 skills someone needs to have to work in the sport industry?

  1. Determination
  2. Many are called but few are chosen. And once you’re in the box, don’t stop.  Be a go-getter!

  3. Creativity
  4. Although “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies in some situations, you need to be creative in order to offer the best fan experience possible. When they leave the stadium, you want them to feel like they had the best time of their lives.

  5. Be a team player
  6. No one works alone on a sports team and interaction is essential to achieve your common goals and be successful.

5Over your 25 years with the Alouettes, I'm sure you've noticed things change, and stay the same, but no one could have anticipated the impact of COVID-19 on the world and the sport industry more specifically. How has the pandemic impacted your role?

It changed everything!! It’s like starting from scratch…no more copy-paste. There is no such thing as being close to the community when everyone is in confinement!

We cancelled school visits, community appearances, fundraising events and of course, no football season.

We had to be creative and rethink our methods. As a team, we went through the list of everything that had to be done and one by one, we came up with new ways to adjust. Virtual meetings took over and ironically, it brought us closer together!

We came up with new initiatives: we cleaned up our warehouse and distributed over 30 boxes of clothing to homeless shelters and youth centers, we had masks made out of replica jerseys to help our Foundation, we sold a virtual stadium and gave all the money raised to the Breakfast Club of Canada.

But what I am most proud of, is our tour of senior homes where our cheerleaders danced outdoors to spread some joy and warmth.

To see the seniors dance on their balconies and see their smiles brought tears to our eyes! Mission accomplished!

Emma Greer Emma's Final Thoughts

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