It’s been the year of badass, powerful women. Every day I see Malala, Amanda Polchies, Laverne Cox, T-Swift, Beyonce, Mo’Ne Davis… the list goes on. However, the women in our lives display strength, intelligence, humility and success without a seat at an awards show. This series is a collection of women from diverse backgrounds and occupations – mothers, students, doctors, professors, scientists, carpenters, journalists and activists – who’ve had an influence on myself and those around me.
4. Dr. Clara Joseph, scholar
Dr. Clara is a post-colonial scholar originally hailing from Bangalore, India. She’s now an associate professor at the University of Calgary. “I help to shape ethical leaders who are interested in social justice and have the skills to achieve their related goals,” she says.
If anyone knows the meaning of hard work, Dr Clara does. “I did a BA, MA (University of Toronto), and PhD (York University) in English, published in the area and applied to more than 200 job ads to finally get “here,” she says.
Dr. Clara has received several teaching awards for mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, writing pieces of academic interest and serving the university community. In the future she wants to become a much better servant to the university and wider community.
You can find her writing here.
5. Alexis Kienlen, journalist
Alexis is a writer and agricultural journalist from Edmonton. She works full-time for the newspaper, Alberta Farmer. “I do stories about agriculture, go to farm meetings, interview people, visit farms and write stories for our bi-weekly newspaper,” she says.
“I never planned to be an agricultural journalist,” Alexis notes, “I wanted to become a writer. I grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and did my first degree in International Studies. At the same time I was doing this, I was also writing and publishing poetry and short fiction.”
Alexis has since published 3 books. “When I was 23, I’d had enough of Joe jobs and I decided I needed to get a skill – something I could do to make money,” she says. “So I applied to go to journalism school and was accepted to Concordia University in Montreal. After school, I got a job at a small town newspaper in Wainwright, Alberta. I did a few agriculture stories. I then took some overseas internships, including one that took me to Mongolia for 4 months. I learned a lot more about agriculture there. Then I moved to Vancouver, where I freelanced for a while. When freelancing and being underemployed began to take its toll, I moved to Grande Prairie, Alberta, for a journalism job. I was hired because I could do arts and agriculture. In 2008, I took my current job with Alberta Farmer and moved to Edmonton. I work from home now, which I also love.”
As an agricultural journalist, Alexis provides information to Alberta’s farmers, talking to experts and sharing information. “I also share these stories to my social media, so I can debunk some of the urban population’s erroneous ideas about food and food production,” she says. “I can take a lot of information and compress it so people can get the vital information they need.”
Alexis wants to continue to write and see where her career takes her, “My job has taken me to a lot of unexpected places,” she says. “In 2012, I went to Sweden on a bursary to attend the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists conference, which was life changing. I’ve also acted as a journalist on a study tour through the Philippines in 2008. I love both travelling and writing, and I try to remain as open as possible. I’ve written two books of poetry, and a biography and I’m working on my fourth book, which is a novel with a rural theme. I just want to keep on writing, creating and learning. I’m open to whatever that means, really.”
You can read her writing here.
6. Lisa Murphy Lamb, director of Loft 112
Lisa is the director of Loft 112, a creative space in Calgary, Alberta’s East Village. The former director of Wordsworth, a summer creative writing residency for youth, Lisa works with teen writers and as a consultant for teen writing programs with the Writers’ Guild of Alberta.
“Creating spaces where people can come together to collaborate, learn and debate, meet and make their own opportunities is what I feel I do best,” she says. “These spaces are inclusive, welcoming, safe and fluid – in order to change with better ideas and input.”
Lisa holds a B.Ed from the University of Calgary and a M.Ed from McGill University and an Adult Education Diploma from Mount Royal University. “I chose to continue to McGill because it offered a program in inclusive education and I wanted to ensure I was as educated as I could be in creating welcoming environments for diverse learners,” she says. “I’ve taught elementary to college classrooms and then I found myself in Houston Texas working for an organization called Writers’ in the School. My most amazing job was WordsWorth Creative Writing Residency for young writers. These last two jobs have led me to find myself more of a community place maker.”
Lisa’s extensive work inspiring, educating and motivating youth was spurred by a personal desire to create. “While I enjoy promoting the craft of other creative beings, I want to learn how to carve out time to honour the writer in me and get my novel finished and published,” she says.
You can take a look at the creative space Lisa curates here.
Stay tuned for part 3 next week!