Welcome to the June edition of our Profound Connections newsletter.
In this month’s Impact story, we feature Deborah MacLatchy, president of Wilfrid Laurier University, an academic leader committed to inspiring women in STEM and promoting diversity and inclusion. The full story can be read here.
We are excited to announce that nominations are now open for the Profound Impact™ Impactful Actions Award. This annual awards program honours individuals who are making a profound impact using collaborative approaches to solve difficult problems. We look forward to the nominations and welcome all to participate. Please feel free to nominate someone or even nominate yourself!
Our progress continues at Profound Impact and we look forward to sharing more with you in the coming months.
Thank you for your ongoing support and engagement,
President and Vice-Chancellor, Wilfrid Laurier University
An academic leader committed to inspiring women in STEM and promoting diversity and inclusion, Dr. Deborah MacLatchy has been at the helm of Wilfrid Laurier University (Laurier) since 2017.
MacLatchy made the journey to Waterloo Region in 2007 after spending the early years of her academic career at the University of Winnipeg and University of New Brunswick. MacLatchy, who grew up in Nova Scotia, is no stranger to Southwestern Ontario. Her father is from Preston, now part of Cambridge, and she did her postdoctoral research at the University of Guelph. “It’s motivating to have returned to my dad’s roots,” MacLatchy said.
She was first hired at Laurier as Dean of the Faculty of Science. In 2009, MacLatchy was appointed to the role of Vice President, Academic and Provost. She also served as Acting Vice President of Research from December 2014 to November 2015. “I’ve just fallen in love with Laurier and being a part of what happens in Southwestern Ontario,” MacLatchy said. “We’ve seen changes in cities rethinking themselves, going from an industrial age to being leaders in a new tech economy.”
MacLatchy has a research lab at Laurier, where she studies the effects of industrial contaminants on fish health. “I look at how fish reproduce and how they grow,” she said. Her research examines how fish are affected by operations like sewage treatment plants or pulp and paper mills, along with working with industries and municipalities on water quality to find solutions for any concerns at the source.
As a female leader of a major post-secondary institution, MacLatchy says it’s important for women to have role models. “They can see themselves being able to see those opportunities are real and if they have an interest or a passion for particular areas, that there will be opportunities for them,” she said. MacLatchy said there were very few female role models when she started university back in the 1980s. “There weren’t many women university professors in the sciences, maybe one per department,” she said. “For women of that era, we made our own role models.”
MacLatchy says women, and white women in particular, have greatly benefited over the past few decades. Now, she says she wants to see more diversity across all disciplines. That’s one goal of Laurier’s strategic plan for the future, focusing on thriving communities and future readiness. “What do the scientists of the future need to have, or the business people or the social workers of the future, the educators of the future?” MacLatchy said. “There’s an understanding that it’s not just what you’re doing, but how you’re doing it.”
As women break into STEM, MacLatchy encourages them to find their passions and connect with others in their chosen field. “I hope that you find the support that you need,” she said. “But, if you aren’t finding the support, know that you’re probably just in the wrong place at the wrong time and that there are other supports out there, there are other people who are able to support you. Maybe reach out a little bit wider than the circle that you’re in.”
MacLatchy hopes to inspire the next generation of women in STEM, leaving behind a legacy of increased diversity and inclusion across all academics.
You can view some of MacLatchy’s accomplishments in the images below.
Do you have an impact story to share? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured in an upcoming newsletter!
IWD 2021 Waterloo Region virtual event powered by Profound Impact
Instead of our monthly Profound Connections webinar, this month we hosted the International Women’s Day Waterloo Region virtual event, put on by Women in Communication Technology — Waterloo Region Chapter, exclusively on the Profound Impact platform. Bringing together Waterloo Region community members from all over the tri-cities and townships on our platform allowed for important conversations to happen seamlessly. We hosted nearly 400 registrants and together celebrated the women of our community and the amazing work that they are doing towards ending gender bias and inequality.
Throughout the all-day event, conversations, affirmations thanking our community through a series of video vignettes, entertainment and musical interludes took place that specifically highlighted women and organizations who have chosen to challenge gender bias and inequity and have helped to create an inclusive world that empowers women and celebrates their achievements.
Speaking remarks were made by incredible women across Waterloo Region involved in various areas of work including science, technology, mentorship, and youth engagement. A few standout remarks include:
“Everyone can be a mentor to someone else and I think it’s really easy to get caught up in this sort of imposter syndrome of ‘I’m not far enough along in my career to be a mentor or I haven’t got the expertise in this particular area,’ but you do.”
— Renata Rusiniak, Principal and Founder, Green Horseshoe Solutions
“Take action whether you want to be part of WCT-WR or some other form of mentorship program. Reach out to someone for coffee and push your confidence.”
— Mansi Baxi, Software Engineer, Manulife
“Some of the best things that make me a strong leader are pieces of my life that I left at home at first.”
— Caitlin Macgregor, Co-Founder & CEO, Plum
“Don’t underestimate yourself. Probe and explore opportunities more before you say no.”
— Dr. Deborah MacLatchey, President and Vice-Chancellor, Wilfrid Laurier University
“Take encouragement and run with it.”
— Jacqueline Hewson, Vice President and Market Leader, BMO Private Wealth at BMO Wealth Management – Canada
With over six live panel conversations, participants were able to engage in important conversations that revolve around women in our local community. We are grateful for all those who participated and encourage women of all ages to get involved in this empowering and welcoming community. Events like this remind women everywhere how strong we are and the power our voices withhold in unison.