TD Bank

Planting Seeds of Prosperity: Meet Jennifer MacDonald, TD Environment Program Manager

TD is proud to employ more than 85,000 individuals across North America and around the world, many of them in unique roles that aren’t often associated with financial institutions.

Originally Published by TD Bank.

In our latest ‘Meet TD’ series, we introduce you to some of the people at the bank who come in everyday to make our business more environmentally sustainable, and to address climate change in the communities we serve.

While she’s worked at the bank for over 15 years, one afternoon last fall in particular stands out for Jennifer MacDonald in summarizing what she likes best about her job.

TD’s Environment Program Manager was already expecting the afternoon to be fulfilling as she and other volunteers planted trees in Springfield, Massachusetts. But MacDonald was still pleasantly surprised when the front door of a home she was passing flung open to reveal a woman waving at her to get her attention.

“She was so appreciative of what we were doing to help beautify the street she grew up on, and just really wanted to thank me and the other volunteers for bringing the TD Tree Days event to her neighbourhood,” said MacDonald, who helped plant 41 trees that day. “That’s what this is all about—bringing value to these communities and to witness how much people appreciate the work we do is extremely gratifying.”

TD Tree Days sees thousands of bank employees and community members come together every year to plant trees in their local neighbourhood. Since 2010, over 390,000 trees have been planted across North America through TD Tree Day events, absorbing roughly 890.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide. This is equal to the emissions released from 189 passenger vehicles in a year.

A career with real growth

Leading up to event, MacDonald liaises with partners at the Arbor Day Foundation and municipal and non-profit contacts in the planning of the event. She also provides communications and volunteer recruitment support for site leaders who manage individual events in their area. Meanwhile, Arbor Day Foundation’s Alliance for Community Trees (a network composed of community-based organizations dedicated to planting and caring for trees), provides site leaders and volunteers with technical expertise to ensure the right tree is properly placed and planted.

When she isn’t in the field handling saplings, MacDonald works closely with non-profit conservation and education organizations like the Arbor Day Foundation, which facilitates two major environmental initiatives for the bank—TD Tree Days and TD Green Space Grants—in cities from Maine to Florida.

“As these trees grow and mature, the amount of carbon they absorb each year also increases,” she said. “They also help regulate temperature. There are so many benefits to these events for so many of us including closer community connections, and a chance to represent the values of our brand.”

READ: A career built on purpose: Meet Nicole Vadori, TD’s head of environment

MacDonald said she was initially drawn to working at TD because the company’s size meant she would be exposed to diverse opportunities that would allow her to grow both personally and professionally.

“I joined the bank hoping to hone and expand my skillset in marketing, and ended up doing more than I could have imagined,” said MacDonald.

In 2017, TD announced its commitment to setting a target of CDN $100 billion toward low-carbon lending, financing, asset management and other programs by the year 2030 as part of its multi-year corporate citizenship platform called The Ready Commitment.  To help achieve that vision and to promote environmental sustainability, the bank is aiming to plant one million new trees across Canada and the U.S. by the same year.

Creating positive change

While being out in nature on the ground level is one of the most enjoyable parts of MacDonald’s job, helping to review and select which environmental and community-based project grant proposals get support may be the most challenging. With so many opportunities to help reduce carbon emissions (whether it’s funding a produce garden for residents of a community or enhancing a local park so that children can gain a deeper appreciation for the environment), not being able to move forward with some proposals is sometimes difficult.

“It isn’t easy making the selections, but our goal is to spread out the projects across our footprint,” said MacDonald, adding that geography, the event or project size, and neighbourhood demographics are key factors in the selection process.

READ: Supply and a good brand: Meet Michelle Albanese, head of responsible sourcing

And while the bank can’t agree to every proposal sent, MacDonald says staying focused on the bank’s reach and ability to create change on a global scale, helps.

“I am so lucky to be employed by a  company that is really committed to investing in communities and enhancing green spaces for all,” she said, referring to the inaugural TD Green Space Grant program, through which 20 cities across the U.S. and Canada in April received USD $20,000 to support green infrastructure development, forestry stewardship, tree planting, and community green spaces.

“Working with people who have the skills, passion and dedication to create a sustainable future for everyone never ceases to be inspiring,” said MacDonald. “Our days are spent protecting our most precious resources, one grant, relationship, or tree, at a time.”

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