The countless women who have bet on me

The countless women who have bet on me

I get a lot of kudos for my work and impact on the Vancouver tech community. The truth is, I would have achieved none of it without a long list of amazing women who have taken chances on me. So on this International Women’s Day, I want to share a few notes on how at every stage of my professional life, women have been critical and shaped who I am today.

Let’s start at the very beginning.

I was adopted from Kingston, Jamaica by Linda Johnson. I didn't know it then, but my mom is an absolute legend. I will never be able to show my gratitude for everything she's done for me.

She raised me and my two brothers with the help of her late mom, my Nannie.

They got lots of help from my mom’s best friend, Jan (and her mom, Grandma, who made the greatest gingerbread cookies in history.)

When I was in university, Julia Johnson let me write for the Charlatan, Carleton University’s student newspaper, after the journalism school had rejected me.

A few years later, Jennifer Elliott hired me as a copywriter at Carleton and taught me everything I know about writing for the web.

After I graduated in 2010, Jan Patterson probably bent some rules when she offered me a job to work on events and community-building initiatives, two things I work on regularly still.

In 2015, Cheryl Draper introduced me to Lindsay Chan, Innovate BC’s former director of marketing and communications, who was hiring a communications specialist. Back then, Innovate BC was called BC Innovation Council. Lindsay brought me in for an interview days before she was going on mat leave, so she included Karen Speirs in our meeting. I didn’t meet Lindsay again for another year (when she returned from her leave), but Karen did offer me a job. I stayed with Innovate BC until the spring of 2017…

When Catherine Ducharme, then working as a recruitment consultant with Smart Savvy and Associates, gave me a call. Was I interested in working at the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association as their head of communications? A few weeks and multiple interviews later, Ivy Haisell, the director of operations at the time, sent me an offer letter. It was a whirlwind seven months and then...

Innovate BC’s VP of operations Tomica Divic called me to ask when I was coming back. Soon after, she hired me (maybe before I was even ready for the role) as director of marketing communications.

A few years after that, C-Suite Content’s Caroline Carter-Smith hired me as a senior editorial strategist, a position that I was average at, at best. She was incredibly understanding when I told her one day that it wasn’t really fit. She's continued to be a supporter of mine, which I appreciate more than she knows.

Around the same time, Maria Pacella and Melanie Moore from Pender Ventures trusted me to help them announce Pender’s new tech fund as a consultant. And not long after, Kathleen Reid similarly relied on me to handle some of her larger PR files and clients while she was on maternity leave.

A few months later, Overstory Media Group acqui-hired me and the Vancouver Tech Journal. A year later, Kate Wilson took a chance when she came to work with me as managing editor of VTJ. She had a secure job at UBC, so leaving was a 100% a gamble. I’m grateful she made the move and helped me grow the Tech Journal network (in Victoria and Calgary, too) to where it is today. She had to put up with me, but at least she got herself a Jack Webster Foundation journalism award as part of the experience.

Throughout most of this, one special person has been cheering me on, a woman who has taken the biggest bet of all on me, my wife, Michelle. We got married in Mexico last year. Fun fact: We also met at Innovate BC. So I guess I owe that organization (and the people who kept me around there) a lot.

P.S. A special shout-out to some of my best friends and fans over the years – people who've helped me in my career by pumping me up, while also calling me out when I've been wrong or out of line: Erin, April, Amanda (x2), Tarah, Vivian, Nathalie, Michelle H., and Lindsay J.

To anyone I've missed, my use of the word 'countless' in the headline is not figurative, it's literal – it would be impossible to note all the women I owe (or will owe) something to in my life. That list is infinite.