Lia Daborn

Executive Director, New Brunswick Dental Society

Lia Daborn is an Association Executive who 'fell into' the sector after completing a Masters in Environmental Studies. That degree brought her to New Brunswick where she accepted her first full-time job as the Executive Director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick at age 26! She learned on the job and translated those skills into employment with professional associations including the Canadian Bar Association and the New Brunswick Dental Society. Lia served as the Atlantic representative on the board of the Canadian Society of Association Executives for a period of eight years, recently completing her term as Past Chair. She has also served on the board of the Fredericton region Habitat for Humanity. In addition to her full-time job, Lia acts as the New Brunswick representative for the Opimian Society, Canada's largest non-profit wine-buying club. In her spare time she bakes, cooks, plays with her camera, reads and drinks wine!


What are you most proud of professionally? And who or why?

My recent experience as Chair of a National Association (Canadian Society of Association Executives)

What's your vision for Atlantic Canada in 10 years? What’s our biggest opportunity now?

Our greatest opportunity is a focus on continued growth, particularly taking advantage of the natural beauty that surrounds us, the inspiring people who live here and encouraging their development and promotion within the region.

What was your greatest stage of growth?  What made it a shift for you? 

Assuming the role as Board Chair of a national organization pushed me outside of my comfort zone in a great way. It was a challenge I had set for myself without really thinking it through in the way I would normally have done - and it meant I had to stretch in ways I would never have done had I taken the time to talk myself out of the job. I was "too young", "too inexperienced", "lacking connections" and "too shy". Chairing a national board provided me the opportunity to learn so many new skills and to realize that I can do things and sometimes need to not think it through, but "leap" instead. That can be really uncomfortable - but so worth it in the end!

What's your favourite or most read book or podcast? Now or at each of your greatest stages of growth?

I have many favorite authors - what links many of them is that they write in a beautiful way that is almost poetic, but provides you with a true picture of what they are trying to say. My choice in the moment depends on my mood.

What's your deepest learning from this past year? How did/will you apply it?

That I do have the ability to lead others, and have a presence that others will look to and follow, provided my message resonates. I have always been shy and despised public speaking. I have tried Toastmasters and other speaking programs, to feel more comfortable in front of a crowd. Little works as well as the experience itself, and having had to speak to rooms of 500 - 600 people over the past three years has meant a lot of growth in this area! At the most recent conference where I presented Committee reports, more than one person commented afterwards that I had "come a long way" and it is true. All of that has helped to build my confidence although I will still continue to have those butterflies every time I have to walk up on stage!

Who's inspired you, directly or indirectly? How have they inspired you?

The former Chief Justice Beverly McLaughlin has always impressed me – she is extremely well spoken and carries herself in such a way that inspired respect. Her presentations are well reasoned and informed, and delivered in a calm manner.  I would love to have that outward calm appearance when speaking to a roomful of people

What would you have done differently?

My career has taken a winding path to lead me to where I am today, but looking back, there is not much I would change. I recognize that I am doing what I am meant to do - working in the Association world, and I know that I am good at it. It suits my personality and my skills.

What motivated you to make the choices you've made? What are the principles you live by?

My motivations were encouraged through one of those "professional / personal development" programs that forces you to set goals and write them down. It is true: once you write things down and envision attaining them, it sets you on a path that means once opportunity presents itself, you can't do anything but say "yes". Becoming chair of CSAE was one goal, set a number of years ago. I also wanted to become a sommelier - and am currently working towards that certificate as well as now acting as a representative for the Opimian Society. Knowing these goals were important to me allowed me to welcome potential opportunities to advance along and get one step closer to accomplishing them. I need to set more goals for myself and keep focused on them in order to keep moving forward.


Association Executive, Wine Lover (and Wine Rep!), baking queen

Lia Daborn