As a professional association for finance professionals in municipal government, the Municipal Finance Officers’ Association of Ontario (MFOA) strives to support its members by providing a resource hub for relevant and timely training and policy work.

The membership is unique in nature where it is not the individual that is the member, but the municipality. When a municipality pays their membership fee, any staff working at a municipality will be able to receive member benefits. This model makes it difficult to track any new staff joining municipalities unless an administrative staff proactively reaches out to MFOA or the individual themselves stumbles upon us through research or word of mouth. Therefore, a more strategic and proactive approach needs to be taken to create awareness among newer finance staff in order to create a more sustainable membership population. Among those that are new to the municipal finance sector, I have identified that there is a knowledge and awareness gap of who MFOA is as an organization.

To create a sustainable membership population, I am focused on supporting an initiative that can help close the knowledge and information gap that currently exists. My problem of practice (PoP) is to determine how we can create an online orientation experience that can educate, engage, and provide an opportunity to grow within MFOA’s existing community of members. Through my work with committee groups, internal staff meetings and interviewing existing members, I have come to understand that creating awareness and cultivating a community takes time, various considerations and approaches. My interactions and insights have shaped my approach in designing digital resources. The following mini-manifesto highlights my values that will be used to navigate through the process:


  1. Be open minded – all ideas and thoughts are welcomed
  2. Ask questions – dig deep and understand from a variety of angels and perspectives
  3. Be resourceful – leveraging existing knowledge/expertise, or even resources currently at hand
  4. Progress, not perfection – designing and creating is a continuous process
  5. Adopting a learner centered approach to design – empathizing with the end user and what their needs and wants are

Based on research from Kouprie and Visser (2009), they viewed terms such as, ‘projection’ and ‘imagination’, as other ways of articulating how being empathic can encompass a wide range of approaches where designers imagine what it would be like for themselves to be the end user. When adopting an empathetic understanding in design, it is important to relate to the user and understand the situation as to why certain experiences are meaningful to those individuals (Battarbee, 2004, as citied in Kouprie and Visser, 2009). Through my readings and interaction with staff and stakeholders, I created an Empathy Map that summarizes my observations.

Click here to view my Empathy Map  

Based on my analysis and artifacts outlined above, I welcome any questions, suggestions and/or feedback you may have that can help me to better identify the needs and solutions to my problem of practice.

Thank you in advance for your assistance!

Kouprie, M., & Sleeswijk Visser, F. (2009) A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of the user’s life. Journal of Engineering Design20(5), 437-448. DOI:10.1080/09544820902875033