Communications Officer – AASUA

Please consider me in your search for a Communications Officer.

My life has never been far from creative expression and communication.

After studying Commercial Art in high school, I enrolled in the BFA program in Art at the U of A; later opting to take B.Ed. degree, which I completed in 1983. My last two years of study, I was a writer for the Gateway and, in my final year, I served as Production Editor. The campus newspaper was a stimulating environment with all kinds of debate, for example, “Should we allow the local strip club to advertise?” After some discussion, I was assigned to cover the establishment’s activities and interviewed one of the dancers. My final year also saw me turn down an offer to complete an Honors Degree in English.

I had hoped to stay on as Editor but my disappointment on not being elected was short lived, as I accepted a position as a Communications Officer II at The University of Calgary. In addition to writing for the bi-weekly Gazette, I also provided writing, photographs, illustrations and graphic design, as required. As you’re aware, universities are stimulating places and I provided articles on student, staff and faculty activities, often seeking creative ways to make technical material accessible and engaging to a general audience. My article, New ways to slice the mapping pie, and its accompanying commissioned illustration, is one example. My bio of new staff member, Beatrice Medicine, illustrates my ability in that regard. At the time, the U of C offered free tuition to staff and I completed courses in art history, Canadian history (with Grant MacEwan) and Communications Research Methods.

After four enjoyable years, I joined Grant MacEwan Community College as a Journalism Instructor teaching courses in mass media, graphic design, photojournalism and news laboratory. Deciding I’d rather write rather than correct, I left this position and moved to Vancouver, joining Canadian Forest Industries Magazine as Western Editor, where I covered all aspects of the business including harvesting, milling and safety. The position I’d hoped to be long term proved the opposite and, after some freelancing in Vancouver, I purchased a Val-Pak direct mail advertising franchise and moved to Nanaimo. Advertising sales was a challenge and I did my best to convince my clients that their investment was worthwhile. Thankfully, in the coupon business, that’s more easily proved than in others, but I was frustrated at how, even when the numbers were good, my clients resented the money they “spent”, rather than invested, with me.

After selling the business, I freelanced in Nanaimo for the BC Business Examiner, Free Press Real Estate, Free Press Showcase and wrote for the Nanaimo Daily Free Press before joining T-MAR Industries in Campbell River as Marketing Manager. At T-MAR, among other duties, I produced company videos, advertising, brochures and used my knowledge of communications methodology to survey customers. I also launched the company’s newsletter, The T-MAR Times.

A downturn in the industry ended this position and, after teaching a number of courses on a contract basis for the Nanaimo School District, I spent the next 10 years teaching students from grade-three to adult in seven different countries. While overseas, I developed curricula, educational materials and assessments for many different educational programs including the Irish Leaving Certificate, IGCSE and PYP, MYP and Diploma Baccalaureate. In the UAE, I worked to develop a curriculum for the instruction of vocational mathematics and co-wrote a series of workbooks and assessment materials in support. I also wrote and produced a documentary, Truck Logging in Africa. In Saudi Arabia, I produced a film based on my children’s story, The Apple of Albert’s Eye, using illustrations provided by my grade-seven classes. While you don’t mention video skills, I believe they could prove useful in this position. Consider my video application for the position of Traveling Ambassador for Air Transat.

Returning to Canada in 2012, I completed the first year of the Hearing Aid Practitioner Program at MacEwan and, later, the Residential Property Licensing Examination at UBC, two demanding online study programs.

My return to Canada saw me launch my website to highlight my creative talents in writing, painting, photography, videography, music and graphic design. My art emphasizes the positive and my Happy Face Series is a good example. I have a working knowledge of MS Office, Illustrator and Photoshop. After contracting out the initial design of my website, I have managed its contents for the past 10 years.

Of the experience and qualifications you seek, I have: post-secondary education with professional experience in communications, journalism and marketing; excellent writing/editing and interpersonal skills; demonstrated ability to use social media; proficiency with HTML and website management using WordPress; experience with graphic design and photo and video editing; ability to take initiative as demonstrated throughout projects posted on my website (team leader for a proposal to build a Holocaust Memorial in Ottawa being one of many); a commitment to fostering positive working relationships wherever I find myself and experience working in a post-secondary environment.

I would need to gain greater knowledge of the Alberta Post-secondary system and more proficiency in social media, two areas that I believe can be addressed in relatively short order.

To my mind, of course, I am a strong candidate for this position. The question is, “Do you agree?” Perhaps, you wonder, if I still have the ability to work with complex ideas and not only analyze and synthesize them, but also examine them for logical consistency.   

In that regard, I invite you to consider my article, Assholes – Another Theory, critiquing the book, Assholes: A Theory, by philosophy professor, Aaron James. I believe it is an important piece of writing because it addresses a vital question in today’s increasingly polarized world: How do we approach those we believe are behaving unacceptably? Or, to put it more succinctly, as the book title suggests: How do you deal with assholes? James actually considers physical beatings and “reeducation camps” (I kid you not), while I argue for dialogue and an understanding of the root cause of the perception of difference.

Thank you for your time in considering my suitability for the position of Communications Officer. Accordingly, let me suggest we meet to discuss the contribution I could make to AASUA in filling this position.