Kaela Schramm

Forty under 40 winner 2018; Director of projects and planning, M’akola Development Services; Age 33

Chung Chow Photo

When Kaela Schramm moved from the U.S. to Victoria to become director of projects and planning for M’akola Development Services in 2013, she was the sole employee.

She now heads a 13-person team that has gotten busy in the last couple of years working on affordable housing projects.

M’akola is a non-profit organization that works with other non-profits, developers and government to develop affordable and supportive housing. She joined at a time when there was little senior government funding available for affordable and supportive housing.

But under her direction, she managed to forge relationships with non-profit organizations and expand the organization. So when government funding started to flow in 2016, M’akola was well positioned to put its clients at the head of the queue.

“We were able to forge a few key partnerships with organizations,” Schramm said.

Born in Germany and raised in Minnesota, Schramm achieved her undergraduate degree in Minnesota, then completed a master’s degree in educational leadership in New York. She then decided to pursue a master’s degree in urban planning at McGill University.

While at McGill, Schramm served an internship with a non-profit in Victoria. After graduating she moved to Victoria and went to work with M’akola in 2013 as a development planner.

M’akola is a non-profit organization that offers planning and development consulting services for other non-profits and First Nations seeking to build affordable and supportive housing. It co-ordinates between its non-profit clients and developers and government.

When Schramm joined M’akola in 2013, there was little senior government funding for affordable housing, yet she managed to expand the organization based on what little funding was available.

After the BC Liberal government committed $855 million to affordable housing projects and issued a call for proposals in 2016, the non-profits M’akola had been working with were at the front of the line.

“We’ve been really strategic,” Schramm said. “We’ve been positioned to take advantage of that.”

Birthplace: Freiburg, Germany

Where you live now: Victoria

Highest level of education: Master of urban planning, McGill University, master of educational leadership, St. Lawrence University

Currently reading: Lost in the City by Edward Jones

Currently listening to: Synthwave and retro-electro podcasts

When you were a kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up: First female president of the United States

Profession you would most like to try: Travel writing

Toughest business or professional decision: I coached university track and field for several years. Making the decision to switch my career path and go get my master’s at McGill was a decision that I agonized over. It was a major change in my life, but it was definitely the right one

Advice you would give the younger you: Do not undervalue yourself. There are a lot of amazing people out there and you are one of them. Understand your strengths and how they translate into value

What’s left to do: Diversify service offerings, better leverage technology and identify new and creative ways to invest back into Indigenous communities

Join us to celebrate the 2018 Forty under 40 Awards January 24, 2019, at the Vancouver Convention Centre. For tickets and event info visit https://www.biv.com/forty-under-40