I was born/grew up in: I was born in England, emigrated to Canada when I was 3 and grew up in the country north of Toronto near the village of Kettleby, Ontario, Canada.
I now live in: I now live in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
I completed my training/education at: University of Guelph and McMaster University
Describe what you do at work.
I spend much of my day bringing people together and connecting them to ideas and opportunities. I work with teams on research projects. Sometimes I spend time conducting interviews and writing reports. I work with people who want to make a difference by sharing my own experiences and knowledge. I am frequently asked to speak to people about my experience in leading change and building healthier and more sustainable communities. I also write about my experiences and thoughts on my blog. I use the critical thinking skills I developed through my science background to help people solve "wicked" problems like climate change. A lot of my work is about engaging people in their communities so that they can make a difference.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people’s lives?
My work has always focused on helping people be part of the decisions that affect their lives and to empower them to make a difference in their own community. I have done this work through different roles including as the mayor of Guelph for 11 years.
What motivates you in your career?
I love working with people on projects that will make the world a better place for everyone. I enjoy the possibility that arises when you connect people with each other and the opportunities that they can create together. I have had the incredible opportunity to work in very different roles in my community - from academics, leading a non-profit organization, being mayor, to running my own business.
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
I began my career in academics at the University of Guelph in fish endocrinology. I took a leave of absence from academia when I had my son. At that time I worked for a non-profit organization. I enjoyed working in the community so much that I took a significant turn to run for City Council and then Mayor. I spent 17 years in local politics. Now I have built my own business based on my past experience. I ran in 8 election losing 3 of them over this time which taught to keep pursuing my passion.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
I like to hike in nature, garden, travel, cook and make mosaics.
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
I would encourage others to take opportunities when they are offered, even if they seem odd or might challenge you, because you never know where they will lead.