This is a legacy provincial website of the ATA. Visit our new website here.

Celebrating women in leadership

February 26, 2019 ATA News Staff


Efforts underway to bring more balance to Association roles

March 8 is International Women’s Day, which celebrates women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements, while also calling for a more gender-balanced world. 

Related Article
Viewpoints: Feminism has unfinished business

March 8 is International Women’s Day, which celebrates women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements, while also calling for a more gender-balanced world.

Gender equity is an ongoing issue within Alberta’s teaching profession, as women comprise approximately 74 per cent of the teaching profession yet hold less than half of various leadership positions.

In recognition of this gender gap, and to encourage women to consider entering the leadership ranks, the ATA News asked a selection of female local presidents to share how they got into leadership, the best advice they’ve received and what they want to teach their students about leadership.

Andrea McLeod
Rocky View Local No. 35

I first got involved during the rally to the legislature in 1997. I had been teaching only a few months! I became a school representative. Then, after a few years, I started joining local committees to become more aware of their roles within the local.

Our local president at the time was moving into the district representative position, which left the position of local president open. I really enjoyed the work I was doing within the local, and I was looking to get into more of a leadership role. I was encouraged to run, so I did!

I like being able to advocate for Rocky View teachers. It allows me to really listen to what teachers are saying about their working conditions and have a voice within the school division to help bring about change.

I want to teach students that leadership is not about ego or personal gain. It is about being an advocate for the people you represent. It is about inspiring others to contribute collaboratively to the team.

Jean Porter
Saint Thomas Aquinas
Teachers’ Local No. 45

I started teaching later in my life, beginning university when I was 39 years old, after leaving a 21-year abusive marriage.

I was invited to one council meeting by my school rep during my first year. Then she went on maternity leave, and I was nominated to fill in for her and I got hooked, as I learned so much there.

I like being able to attend a variety of meetings where I learn so much from everyone I work with. The amount of professional and personal development I get from each of these is outstanding. I am finding myself again, growing as a person and healing from my past marriage by taking on this position. It helps me grow confidence in myself.

The best advice I’ve ever received about leadership is to be true to myself and not try to be the type of leader someone else is.

What do you want to teach your students about leadership?

To embrace it. You don’t have to know how to do everything; you just need to be willing to learn as much as you can, accept advice where appropriate, not take it personally when people suggest how you can improve and have a great team that is willing to work with you, which I have with my executive and council members.


Kim Nahirniak
Woodland Rivers ATA Local No. 40

I love being informed about what’s going on in education and sharing that information with ­others. I generally like to be in a supporting role, so I am surprised by how much I enjoy the challenges of being a leader. Woodland Rivers Local has an amazing team of people, and I love working with them!

I want my students to believe in themselves and have the confidence to seize opportunities that present themselves.

Best advice:

“The leader’s job isn’t to have all of the ideas. It’s to make sure all of the ideas are heard and that the best one wins.” Chris Hawker


Savi Houldin
Livingstone Range Local No. 14

The best advice I received about leadership is that we all have leadership qualities, and true leaders help to bring out those qualities in others. I guess that this is what I also try to share with students.




Kristel Laderoute
Northland Local No. 69

I love my job as local president because it gives me a chance to connect with teachers throughout our division. The best advice that I have received while in this leadership position is that I need to be confident in my abilities and learn to delegate when things get overwhelming. I have an amazing team of executives who are ready and willing to take on any task I present to them. I hope that, in this position, I model to my students that with hard work and dedication, anyone can be a strong leader.


Karin Brusse-Paterson
Battle River Local No. 23

As I complete my third year as president, the best thing is being there for my fellow colleagues beyond the classroom. Whether it’s organizing ceremonies for those new to the profession, or workshops for those leaving the profession, there is a real purpose to what I do.


One of the best pieces of advice that resonated with me was when I heard past president Mark Ramsankar speak at a summer conference. He said, “You have to know when to follow, when to listen and when to lead.”

Also In This Issue