CSC is blessed to have a dynamic leadership team that includes some amazing and inspiring women. This month, in honour of International Women’s Day (March 8), the Women Offender Sector hosted a discussion event that shed light on three women being bold while helping to forge a better working world for women and a more gender inclusive world for all.
The panel was comprised of Nathalie Dufresne-Meek, A/DG Labour Relations and Workplace Management, Kimberley Gibner, A/DG Incidents Investigation Branch, and Kelly Hartle, DG Women Offender Sector. Each woman brought a wealth of experience and knowledge to the lively discussion which touched on issues of gender equality, balancing personal and professional life, and inclusive, positive leadership.
Kim Gibner started the conversation by describing the boldness required to come to CSC from working as a lawyer at the Department of Justice. She explained that far from waiting for an opportunity to present itself, she proactively asked for the opportunity to demonstrate to CSC leadership how she could meaningfully contribute to the organization and highlighted the expertise that she brought to the table. As she said, it’s important for women not to be “quietly amazing”, but instead, see themselves as extraordinary people who bring valuable skills and abilities to a role, and to not be shy about asking for the opportunities they want. She also touched on the impressive ability of women to multitask by balancing the many responsibilities of both personal and professional life on a day to day basis.
For Nathalie Dufresne-Meek, being bold meant getting out of her comfort zone to take on a challenging new management opportunity in a new city far from the comforts of home. While working for the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, Nathalie took on a management role which had her supervising employees 20 years her senior, with 20-30 years more experience than her. She wanted to grow professionally, make a difference and inspire those that she led, and knew that this opportunity would give her the chance to do just that. She says that the key to her success along the way has been recognizing that you can lead with purpose and caring, being genuine, and learning from those around her.
Last to speak was Kelly Hartle. Kelly’s impressive career has taken her from her first position with CSC as a Primary Worker at the Edmonton Institution for Women starting 1998, to Deputy Warden at Drumheller Institution, Warden of Edmonton Institution, and her current role at NHQ as Director General, Women Offender Sector. Kelly reiterated how being bold doesn’t mean you have to know everything-it means believing in yourself, drawing from the experience and expertise of others, doing what you say you’re going to do, and always keeping a sense of humour. She reiterated the importance of the strong mentorship she has had along the way and credits her success to taking on new opportunities that took her out of her comfort zone and allowed her to learn and grow.
All three panelists agreed that having a supportive family and partner was critical in enabling them to make brave choices along the way. They also agreed that being bold to affect change meant three things: believing in yourself; asking for opportunities that interest you; and staying positive, even in the face of rejection. What’s important is not that every chance you take is successful, or that you win each competition that you apply for, but taking the chance in the first place and continuing to learn and grow from your experiences. Sometimes as women, we must embrace change head-on; sometimes it’s better to remain where we are and wait until the timing is right to move forward. As people, women or men, we must all decide for ourselves where our path leads. As they aptly closed the discussion, life is a series of journeys, not a destination.