An Accidental Career, Deliberately
My career in community began without me realizing it.
A teenager, I was hired as a summer lifeguard at the outdoor pool in my hometown, Melville, Saskatchewan. By the third summer I was pool manager. These were great jobs, hooking me on community development and recreation as a professional career.
To pursue the field, I graduated with a Diploma, Recreation Administration from Saskatchewan Polytechnic (then SIAST). (As part of my investment in life-long learning, I’ve since earned a BComm (Royal Roads University) and an MA (University of Victoria).)
With my new diploma I headed to Alberta for my first full-time recreation position, Executive Director and Pool Manager for the Athabasca Landing Pool Association. Two-years later, I was selected by the City of Grande Prairie as Aquatics Coordinator, then to The Calgary YMCA as an Aquatics Director and finally to the Town of Edson as Recreation Coordinator. There, I found a mentor, the Town Manager, who saw something in me that I didn't see in myself. He gave me license to explore community development and create new relationships with community and business leaders.
British Columbia then called, with the Township of Esquimalt naming me Manager, Recreation Services. Challenged to lead the transition into and out of a major facility reconstruction project while maintaining programs and services, I also led two strategic planning initiatives, a new parks, recreation and cultural services master plan and a five-year youth strategy. When the department's Director was seconded elsewhere, I was appointed Acting Director and upon his return, I was named the Town’s first Director, Community Redevelopment and Sustainability.
Next stop, the City of Nanaimo as Senior Manager, Recreation and Culture with a mandate to focus on community development, organizational development and customer experience. This strategic work enabled me to interact with community groups and organizations, government ministries and agencies and private sector leaders committed to building healthy communities. Subsequently, I was appointed Director, Strategic Relations, Culture and Heritage.
Today, I’m the District of Saanich’s Director, Parks, Recreation and Community Services where I combine my strategic thinking skills, relationship building experience and commitment to exceptional public service and progressive best practices to lead a dynamic, innovative team committed to providing inspiring places and spaces for individuals, families and neighbours to connect and grow in an environment and a community where everyone belongs.
As part of Saanich’s corporate leadership team, I’m helping shape the District’s reconciliation work with the seven First Nation’s whose territories envelope Saanich. This eye-opening assignment, focused on listening, understanding and recognizing, is rich with learning and appreciation. My other corporate responsibilities range from spear-heading the District’s response to the Regina Park Homeless Encampment resulting in a BC Supreme Court order that the unauthorized camp be dismantled, to charting the District’s response to the COVID pandemic, a global event that has given us all the greatest permission to change.