Candidates for the Happy City St. John's Board of Directors

While we're certainly going to be accepting nominations from the floor at tonight's meeting, we've also already heard from a few fine folks who are putting their names forward for our Board of Directors. A few of our candidates passed in statements of why they'd like to join the board. You can read a little about them here:

Danielle LeBlanc

I'm originally from Nova Scotia, but I've been in St. John's for over four years. I'm a student at MUN in Communication Studies and Public Administration and up until this summer, I was working with the francophone community.

For the last 7 years, I've been passionate about youth leadership and was lucky enough to work with the french immersion and francophone students in Newfoundland and Labrador as I was the provincial coordinator for Franco-Jeunes de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador (a for the youth, by the youth, non-for profit organization). This summer, I'm in Montreal working for Youth Employment Services, which aims to help anglophones find jobs and/or create their own businesses, as well as volunteering for another youth organization, Apathy is Boring, that aspires to engage unengaged youth of our country.

You can probably sense a theme in my background and that's exactly why I would like to join Happy City. On your website, you mention that the goal is to faciliate public dialogue around civic issues. Well, I believe that a great way to create this type of dialogue is to encourage young people to get involved. If a young individual gets involved, the potential is endless. Young adults are as passionate about this city as the older generation and we just need to tap into that resource. And that's the exact reason I think I would be a bonus to the team, not only do I fall in that category myself, I also want to encourage other students and young adults to get involved!


Morgan Murray

Hi there, I'm Morgan Murray. I'm currently the Public Policy Intern at the Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development, where I plan all sorts of public policy-related public events. Prior to that I was a writer and designer at The Scope newspaper and a grad student in Humanities at Memorial. Throughout, for the past three-plus years anyway, I have morganized and hosted the monthly event series Words in Edgewise at Eastern Edge Gallery. I also sit on the Board of the Food Security Network of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Memorial Public Engagement Expert Working Group, and is part of a group planning civic engagement activities for the new MUN Battery location. My masters thesis, "Screw Everything, Make it Better," was about the ethics of civic engagement. You can see/hear/watch/read much of my work on my very brown, including my TEDxFort Townshend talk about the power of the snow shoveling citizen from 2012. My Happy City is a bustling bee-hive full of neighbours living together and looking out for one another.

Kathleen Parewick

Kathleen Parewick (BFA, MUP, PhD) is a community development worker with twenty-plus years of St. John's-based volunteering under her belt. She has supported a wide array of professional, civic, environmental, arts and cultural organizations here, including as a founding member of the Friends of Victoria Park and their much-loved annual Lantern Festival. By day, she is a researcher and project manager based at Memorial University. Her climate change and community adaptation-related work is currently focused on Northern Canada.

Dana Parsons

My background is in sports and athletics, dance, marketing and development, and I've never moved away. I've worked for MUN, City of St. Johns, and currently Bennett Group. I'm a volunteer, I live downtown and have goats and ducks next door but can walk to upscale shops and corporate highrises.
We can have it all.

Robyn Rechenmacher

I have a love for people, places, and great spaces; all of which have recently brought me back to St. John's. My strongest passion lies in facilitating community building, and public engagement events.

I pursue my passion professionally, as an Urban and Regional Planner with Tract Consulting, and personally as a volunteer coordinator, facilitator, and director for community building events.

Over the past five years, I have been able to contribute to the Saskatoon community through various events. Most recently, I directed "CurioCity 2013", Saskatoon's first Urban Idea Symposium, in which community members, professionals, and academics were invited to become curious about eh city, and share their urban ideas for Saskatoon's future and community leadership. I'm most interested in learning more about the St. John's community and urban affairs discourse, and helping Happy City continue to build the capacity of educated and engaged citizens in St. John's.

Robert Ring

I am interested in becoming a member of Happy City's board of directors because I would like the opportunity to influence the direction the city develops. I am currently writing my Master's thesis in Political Science at Memorial University about democracy and the electoral system.

I am from St. John's but I have lived in and spent time in many other cities. Because of this, I would bring interesting perspectives and ideas to Happy City. One observation I have made from my travels is how European cities tend to have less traffic than Canadian cities, despite having higher populations. The reason is simple: European cities are densely populated, walkable and have excellent public transit. Suburban sprawl coupled with poor public transit in the St. John's area has created car-dependence and there appears to be no end in site to this trend. Considering the rate at which the St. John's area is expanding, I believe we should encourage development that would reduce traffic and car dependence, such as building denser, walkable, mixed-use developments, along with improved public transit.

I regret not being able to attend this evening. Please consider my election to the Happy City board.

Josh Smee

As Vice-Chair, and now as Interim Chair, I have had the chance to help build Happy City St. John's as a force in the community - and I'm so proud of all the amazing people who've come on board. This next year will be a big one, and I look forward to the chance to help guide the steps this city is taking towards becoming a more engaged place - and to help Happy City grow into an even more prominent and diverse organization.

Outside of Happy City, I work full-time for the Community Sector Council NL, a local nonprofit, as well as administering a local music program. I'm also chair of the board at the St. John's Farmer's Market Cooperative, and I'm a volunteer with the Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Centre. I'm passionate about the little things that we, as citizens, can do to take ownership of our community.

Hedi Hother-Yishay

Hedi is a nursing student at MUN, is very energetic and enthusiastic, and is exceptionally well-organized. She has lead multiple grassroots initiatives in the past and knows how to get things done. She would like to contribute to St. John's, her chosen home, and over the past year has seen that Happy City is an organization whose vision aligns with her own.

Hedi really believes in Happy City's mission to bring people closer to the municipal decision-making process. She worked for a couple of years with a group in Saskatchewan called Smart Cities Healthy Kids, a research project assessing the health of children in urban environments. So she understands the impact our built environment can have on our health, and believes that when people are both the source and focus of our decision making, we will have a better city for all.

Written by Happy City at 10:15

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