Interim Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) Commissioner Anne Kelly is pleased to see that women are increasingly emerging as leaders both at work and in society at large, and International Women’s Day provides a good opportunity for all of us to reflect on those gains.
While she knows that there’s still much to be done, she remains a natural optimist, celebrating the road travelled and progress made along the way.
The Interim Commissioner remembers a time when she was often the only woman at executive meeting tables, and she’s proud to see more and more women being appointed to senior management positions.
“Today, there are more women than men at EXCOM, with three of the five Regional Deputy Commissioner positions being held by women,” she notes. "It is amazing when you stop and think about it. Women have a lot to contribute, and I am proud to see women taking their place.”
Ms. Kelly often reminds women of the importance of treating everyone with respect – including themselves.
“We must stay genuine and believe in ourselves,” she explains. “That is how we earn the respect and trust of others and are seen as credible.
“I have always wanted to do things right, and I often remind staff of my favourite quote: Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence.”
The Interim Commissioner hopes her passion for her work will inspire the people around her. “I can’t wait to get to work every morning, to take up challenges and find solutions. I have loved every position I have held. I always told myself that I have the best job, the very best job!”
Anne Kelly started her career as a case management officer at Collins Bay Institution, then became a Unit Manager at Warkworth and Joyceville Institutions. She has also worked as Deputy Warden at Mountain Institution, Director General of Offender Programs and Reintegration, Deputy Commissioner for Women, and Regional Deputy Commissioner of the Pacific Region. She was appointed Senior Deputy Commissioner in 2011.
Had you read that impressive resume to a young Anne Kelly, fresh out of high school at Collège St-Joseph in Hull, she probably wouldn’t have believed her career would follow that path. She was passionate about science and chemistry, and, with the goal of becoming a surgeon, she completed a bachelor’s degree in biology.
Her interest in the field of corrections began when she took non-program university courses in psychology and sociology. Discovering a new passion, she enrolled in the Master of Criminology Program.
More than three decades later, Anne Kelly remains passionate about working for CSC. “I firmly believe in our mission,” she says. “In my early years, I could see the impact I could have on offenders. How we conduct ourselves with them and take an interest in them can contribute to changing their lives. And, as women in this traditionally male workplace, we bring different attributes, including the way we communicate and collaborate.”
Over her almost 35 years in CSC, she has witnessed an impressive evolution in services for women in Canadian corrections. “Our programs and services have improved enormously,” explains the Interim Commissioner, who worked in what was the only Prison for Women in the late 1980s (well before each region had its own institution for women). “From a reintegration standpoint, it is crucial to provide services which are more adapted to women offenders, and that is what CSC constantly strives for.”
Anne Kelly would like to thank the thousands of women in the Correctional Service of Canada’s extended family. Regardless of your role, each of you has an important contribution to make. International Women’s Day is the day to celebrate your place.
“Do not be afraid to take up challenges. Some steps are unclear even for me. Take every experience as an opportunity to learn,” she says. “It is in the most difficult times that we grow and learn more about our work and ourselves.”
On that note, Happy International Women’s Day!