Empowering People To Break The Structure of Abuse and Violence

Meet Carrie McManus, Director of Innovation & Programs at Sagesse, an organization that empowers people of all backgrounds to disrupt structures of violence through curating environments to heal and lead safe, healthy lives. 

As a registered social worker and Director of Innovation and Programs at Sagesse, Carrie McManus works to challenge long-standing beliefs and eradicate social issues like domestic violence. She joined the organization 8 years ago as a Program Facilitator and was promoted to her current position last year. Her passion for disrupting the structure of abuse and violence led her to ask “what if” as she developed the initiatives to empower the people impacted by violence. 

Carrie grew up in a middle-class household which was very integrated with the social and geographical communities around them. She calls herself a wanderer who is always seeking to find a home, identity, and space where she can truly be herself. She was never scared of a big move like most of us are and spent almost a decade living on the other side of the country in her twenties. After years of working as an event manager, she decided to become a social worker to help others find their homes and places they can have a sense of belonging. 

Elaborating on the idea behind the organization, she says, “Sagesse empowers individuals, organizations, and communities to disrupt structures of violence and abuse by curating environments to heal and lead safe, healthy lives. We work in more than 50 communities across Alberta – either directly providing service or partnering with agencies to deliver programs on our behalf.” Her role involves equipping staff with the resources and support they need to effectively provide programming and also leading all the research and evaluation projects. 

Working at the organization, McManus has learned that nothing is static, everything can be changed and adapted, and she has the power to be part of creating large-scale change for those around her. McManus works from a mindset that every day has the capability to change her perspective. It has the potential to change her career and the world around her, and she has the responsibility to embrace this change that comes along. 

 Ever since Carrie joined the organization 8 years ago, it has tripled in size. They say yes to every project that comes along and always strive to work for the welfare of people affected by violence in the communities. The organization follows a client-centered approach as they consider it their ethical responsibility to show up every day for the people they serve. Her biggest challenge has always been around getting others to step out of their comfort zone, recognize the issues that need solutions or progress, acknowledge them and work towards finding what else could be there.

McManus believes there’s always room for a change, and a new day can entirely change your perspective and approach towards something. It is not easy to make the transition from a well-paying job to the nonprofit sector, where funds are always scarce. But Carries wants to live for others and help them in a space where they can be themselves without being oppressed. Leaving an inspiring message for her readers, she says, “I always go back to the saying on my wall by Tina Fey, ‘Say yes & figure it out afterwards’. I think the most important thing we can do is embrace the challenges and changes around us and be willing to always be changing, growing, and learning.”