Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Toronto, Ontario. We moved a lot when I was young. My father was a welder who did welding at heights and specialty welding. In fact, my father welded some of the framework in University Hall when I was young; I guess I have always been a part of the University of Lethbridge. I have eight sisters and one brother who live all over Canada. I grew up between Ontario and British Columbia. I have lived in Toronto, Winnipeg, Victoria and Calgary. I was a welder when I was young — I welded construction products and scaffolding products in the summers for a few years in Brampton, Ont. I finished high school in Calgary and then worked at the Calgary Board of Education in Caretaking. I had my only child, Kaelen, in 1987. I decided to go back to school when he was about a year old. I went to one year of Chemical Engineering Technology at SAIT but then Kaelen was diagnosed with Perthes disease in 1990 and I ended up leaving school again. I worked again at the Calgary Board of Education in Caretaking. I went back to SAIT in 1993 and finished the Energy Analyst program. I worked at an Alberta Cleaning supply company in customer service, then sales, and became, at the time, the only woman certified in Canada to fix Nilfisk/Advance cleaning equipment. I decided that I wanted to do more with my experience. I started working in hospitals in Calgary where I was a coordinator of staff. I was responsible for setting up cleaning areas, training and conducting quality assurance audits. I moved to Lethbridge in 2005 and worked as the Director of Housekeeping at the Lethbridge Regional Hospital. I was responsible for approximately 100 staff on 24/7 shifts. I was familiar with the University of Lethbridge as I had set up equipment and had done training with the Caretaking staff when I was in sales. The previous manager, Bill Hudgins, was moving into Project Management, finishing up the Alberta Water and Environmental Building. I saw the ad in the Lethbridge Herald and applied to be the Manager of Caretaking Services. The rest is history.
How long have you been at ULethbridge and what do you do here?
I have been at the University since April 2008. I am responsible for taking care of the cleaning of approximately three million square feet. We also take care of pests on campus which include bugs and mice. We do not take care of the snakes — that is Security so you will need to contact them about snakes inside. We also do the recycling on campus which consists of batteries, cardboard, compost, e-cycling, plastic, metal, Styrofoam and wood. We are the only post-secondary institute in Western Canada who do the concrete grinding and polishing of the floors on campus. We have been doing concrete grinding since 2012. We also have an agreement with Ancillary Services. We clean the common student public spaces in the apartments. We do the move-out inspections and the move-out cleaning for new student occupancy for over 1,000 bedrooms. Conference and Event Services operates the Lux Hotel from May to August in Mt. Blakiston. Caretaking cleans the guests' rooms and resets beds, including cleaning the hotel linen.
I have an amazing team of 40 FTE caretakers, two FTE recycling and waste employees, and one FTE equipment repair employee. At ULethbridge, we are best known for how clean our campus is. We take pride in cleaning and the processes we use. We have other institutes that come and see how we do what we do so well.
What's the best part of your job?
Working with my staff is the best part! They are hardworking, caring and are the most motivated people. Caretaking is not easy — you have to be willing to do dirty work every day. The employees are always willing to help the staff and students with a smile. The Caretaking staff have different backgrounds, come from all over the world, and several are students. I also enjoy working with the large university community because we are all working towards the same goal — supporting the students who represent this university as alumni when they leave and go out into the world. That is why Supporting our Students (SOS) is so important. It is a struggle to be a student with school, money and life stress. Several students need to work and go to school to achieve their goals in life. I always say to staff that if everyone gave just $5 per month to SOS then students would have less stress. Recently we have purchased some AI cleaning equipment you will see one in the library vacuuming. You will see one driving around in the 1st Choice Savings Centre cleaning floors.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
We have over six acres south of Lethbridge so there is always work to be done outside. I love the trees, flowers and especially the birds. I also enjoy drawing and painting when I have a bit of time. Kaelen lives in Calgary — he has his master’s degree in business administration and is finishing his master’s degree in education. We have a high-energy black lab Freya who loves to run. My husband Dennis and I like antique cars; we currently have three. We used to have several more, but we sold some to make room in the garage to park a daily driver (mine). We have a 1965 Meteor, 1959 Bonneville, and 1960 Bonneville. We had horses but we do not ride anymore so we gave some away and sold others.