I arrived in Victoria in 1983 to attend Royal Roads Military College on my path to becoming an officer in the Canadian Armed Forces. I subsequently had the privilege to serve with the 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia`s Canadian Light Infantry, then based in Victoria at Work Point Barracks. As a junior officer, I was fortunate to serve with many exceptional young men and women while on deployment in Canada, the United States and Europe and during my time on UN peacekeeping duties in Cyprus and Croatia.
After leaving the military, a year spent traveling in Africa provided me with a fresh perspective on life and a desire to make a positive change in the world. After earning a Diploma in Environmental Technology through Camosun College, I carried on to graduate from the University of Victoria with a Bachelor degree in Science focusing on Geography and Environmental Studies. This led me to a career in strategic land use planning with the provincial government where I witnessed the power of consensus decision making to create durable and balanced outcomes. I benefited from working with First Nations leaders, conservationists, industry representatives, members of the public and my government colleagues, learning in the process that every person has something worthwhile to contribute.
My interest in the Greater Victoria School Board and school district administration originated with my profound disappointment in the manner in which the protracted bullying of one of my children was addressed by administration, at the school and district levels, and ultimately by the School Board itself. While our experience was ultimately resolved, I was struck by how fundamental safeguards were not in place to ensure that incidents of this sort would not occur in the future.
During the three years that I attended Board meetings as a member of the audience, it became clear that beyond this single issue, there were many aspects of our Board's approach to public education that could benefit from broader engagement with students, parents, teachers and administration, new ideas, and greater accountability. I made formal presentations to the Board on such topics as the benefits of strategic planning, and suicide education and awareness but found limited receptivity.
In the 2014 municipal elections, I was successful in winning a seat on the Board on a platform committed to improved accountability and more transparent decision making, increased engagement and a focus on classrooms and learning support. An early success was the creation of a strategic plan to guide the District and was followed not long after by bucking district tradition and holding an open competition for the position of Superintendent. The successful candidate, Piet Langstraat, proved to be a man of vision and diplomacy. Over the subsequent three years the district benefited from his calm, collaborative style of leadership. During that time the Board achieved a range of accomplishments from mandatory reporting and quarterly financial statements to newsworthy topics including student dress codes and proposals for a future Vic High. To learn more about my first term commitments and their outcomes, you can review my track record.