Municipal World's International Women's Day celebration
Susan Gardner is the CEO and publisher of Municipal World, but her career with the company extends further than those titles as this September marks 30 years working with local governments across Canada.
“I feel proud of the relationships and friendships that I have made with people across the country. I feel proud of the stories we’ve been able to share, the diversity of stories,” Susan said. “I think I believe now, more than ever, in the power of local governments to make a difference in people’s lives in the communities in which they live.”
It was a love of words that really drew Susan to Municipal World, although her original opportunity to work with words started out with codifying municipal by-laws and policies. That, perhaps oddly to some, led to an interest in municipal law and how communities have this power to make important decisions on the public’s behalf — choices that can have a real impact on people’s lives.
Eventually, her interest in the inner-workings of municipalities led her to pursue accreditation with the Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario, and later, her Master of Public Administration in Local Government.
A staunch supporter of including more women’s voices in local government, Susan said she relishes the opportunity to identify the path forward for Municipal World. More than that, she enjoys supporting the people inside the organization — ensuring they are able to do their jobs to the best of their abilities — and making sure they have what they need to be successful.
“I love that my job is something new every day,” she said. “I feel inspired by my team, their commitment to our goals. I really love the opportunity we have to travel across the country, connect with people, share their stories. It has taken us to different parts of the world even.”
Not only has Susan — who is married to husband Tim, with two children and two grandchildren — travelled to countries like France and Sweden to participate in significant conferences, she has even enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with royalty. It was just a few years ago that she was invited to meet the King and Queen of Sweden during their visit to Canada.
Of course, as much as she loves her job, Sue has other passions as well. Among them are drumming and singing, having spent about seven years playing a part of a band.
“I’m a big blues fan,” she said. “A real treat for me a few years ago, we were in Chicago for my birthday, and I had front-row seats at Buddy Guy’s Legends, when Buddy Guy showed up for a surprise appearance and sang a couple songs. Totally made my day.”
Mary Tully jokingly describes her current job title as “gopher,” but that’s probably because her current role is somewhat undefined compared to the previous jobs she embraced at Municipal World over her four-plus-decade professional career.
Mary retired from Municipal World in 2014 after 45 years at the company. During that time, Mary figures she did “just about every job” at one point or another. She began work as an assistant to the advertising manager, “at a time we didn’t even plug in the typewriters,” before moving on to circulation and finishing up as associate editor.
With a career path that “just doesn’t happen anymore,” Mary was a student at business college before the company’s advertising manager contacted the school looking for “somebody.” It turns out, Mary was just the right somebody for the job.
“They said ‘here’s somebody’ and that’s the end of that. I stayed for 45 years. That doesn’t happen today,” Mary said. “Everybody does either laterals or the five-years-I’m-out-of-here. It was convenient for me; I didn’t have to travel to London, Toronto. I’m from St. Thomas, Port Stanley. I was quite happy when we moved to Union as I didn’t have to travel all the way into St. Thomas. And I didn’t have to pay for parking.”
Mary left in 2014, deciding a change was in order. Ironically, that change didn’t take long; the day after her retirement, Mary and her husband Robin left for a two-week stay at the Caribbean island of St. Martin – “It was something to do, so I didn’t have to wake up and ‘say what should I do next.’”
In 2017, Mary was invited to lunch by Municipal World CEO and Publisher Sue Gardner. Sue then asked Mary if she would be open to coming back on a part-time basis and helping with a few specific projects.
Although it cut into her pickleball schedule – she was playing three or four times a week, but that’s now down to just one – she agreed, and it has been an enjoyable experience ever since. Her passion for travel has continued, however, with her stops including Mexico, a river cruise in Europe (between Budapest and Prague), and there is an upcoming trip to Portugal to look forward to as well.
But one thing that will typically come along with Mary is a good book – in print or otherwise.
“I really get into reading and can’t put it down and then won’t read anything for six months,” Mary said. “I pick up various things . . . historical dramas. I just pick up the popular authors, whatever I can get on my iPad. I like to read hardcovers too . . . it’s easier when you’re on the beach.”
For the past two years, Rebekah Rickwood has worked as senior business development associate at Municipal World, a job that has allowed her to not only build on old skills, but also add a multitude of new ones.
Rebekah was looking for “a new career path,” when fate brought her to Municipal World. Her immediate thought was it looked like “a very good place to work, really interesting,” with a number of opportunities to learn.
Learning is something Rebekah has embraced, if it was something she enjoyed. Fortunately for Municipal World, her role has provided just the kind of challenge she was looking to find along that new career path.
And so, the learning that has come along with this new journey is something she has welcomed. In fact, her favourite part of her job is solidifying new partnerships across the municipal sector in Canada.
“I keep relationships going with past and current clients for advertising. I bring in new clients for advertising. And I work with a lot of organizations for partnerships,” she said. “I found it really interesting. It’s that feeling of accomplishment.”
Something Rebekah doesn’t need to learn anything about is the importance of family. A mother of three children – Lacey, 22, Zach, 20, and Hannah, 14 – she also has grandbaby, Jesse, who is almost two years old, and another grandchild on the way.
Born and raised in St. Thomas, Rebekah enjoys sports, particularly football and mixed martial arts. That said, spending time with friends and family comes at the top of her list of passions.
“I like lots and lots of family time, kids and grandkids, but I do not neglect my friends and my wine,” she smiled. “I love warm weather and being outside, backyard barbecues, which kind of ties in with spending time with friends and family.”
Cassidy Meath has always been interested in the written word, so when Municipal World’s job posting for assistant editor popped up, the opportunity was one not to be ignored.
As assistant editor, a job they have had for just over a year now, Cassidy’s role is a wide-ranging one involving the editing of magazine articles – both for in-print and online publication – and book manuscripts. Managing portions of the Municipal World website – including the research content, feature stories, and event page – and looking after the needs of the company’s many contributors is also included in their daily routine.
Cassidy studied English Language and Literature at Huron University College, and then a publishing post-grad at Centennial College, but their passion for publishing likely began much earlier.
“English has always been my thing, since I was young, reading and writing. I have memories from age five, walking around with a book,” Cassidy said. “Honestly, it’s the stories. I like learning, I like reading stories; it really opens up your world when you read stories. I’m kind of a nerd; I like finding those weird little mishaps in language, the misplaced comma, the elusive double space. But mostly, I just like helping authors tell their stories.”
As much as Cassidy enjoys being at work, they have a full plate away from the office as well.
Writing and drawing remain a source of enjoyment, but music is also a big part of life, particularly at the gym, which is where Cassidy can be found “sweating out my troubles.”
While enjoying a good workout is satisfying, sometimes an escape from reality is in order. In addition to being part of a bi-weekly Dungeon and Dragons game – “Saving the world and what not; no biggie.” – there is always time for catching up with their favourite TV shows.
“I do enjoy binge-watching Netflix,” Cassidy said. “I’m watching Shameless right now. I like Daredevil and The Punisher; those are good ones too. I just started Season Three of Daredevil, so no spoilers.”
Jami Jacklyn has enjoyed her first year working at Municipal World, but she also prefers a world a bit darker and spookier than that inside the office.
Jami’s role is client engagement, which means she does a little bit of everything. She works on the Municipal World job board, serving as a liaison between the magazine and various HR departments in different municipalities to ensure their positions get posted online.
As her title suggests, she also works with Municipal World members, engaging them with any assistance they might need. That personal engagement is something she particularly enjoys.
“I like lots of different things about the job, actually,” Jami explains. “I like getting to meet the people I talk to on the phone at conferences, building rapport with them. That’s really cool. And the atmosphere in my actual workplace, I really enjoy that too. They’ve accepted all my quirks.”
Jami and her husband Jason have three children, Madison, 17, Presley, 12, and Lennon, 6. While the family is building a growing real estate investment business, they also enjoy road trips across the country, often travelling in renovated vintage trailers. Since she was young, Jami has also enjoyed being a “quote collector,” where she writes down and collects random quotes.
Jami has also always enjoyed “the darker side of life,” which is reflected in her love for true crime novels – her favourite, the aptly titled, The A to Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers.
While that might seem a bit dark to some, it fits well with her family’s wider reputation. Known locally as “the Halloween family,” Jami is proud of their yearly charity haunt, the Estate of Fear, which they have run now for the past 11 years.
“I’ve always been into the dark side of things,” Jami said. “I’m a punk rocker and have always been into that. We’ve amassed a small fortune in props, and we run it as a haunt for charity. It’s a lot of fun.”
Kim Costa, the executive coordinator at Municipal World, has been with the company for nine years and has enjoyed every minute of it.
Kim – who has been married to her husband Oscar for 30 years and has two sons, Chris and Jesse – explains she’s been excited by the new opportunities offered to her at Municipal World. In her role, she oversees many different projects, conferences, and trade shows, while also managing the schedule of Municipal World CEO Sue Gardner, and looking after work that needs to be done on the building and within the office.
Not only does her job allow her to stretch her business skills, but it also allowed her to satisfy her natural impulses as well.
“I just like helping everybody. I want to help Sue; I want to make sure her day is going smoothly,” she said. “I’m a mother by instinct, so helping others, giving advice to the younger people who may come in looking for advice or help on something. That mother role is truly satisfying.”
That motherly role continues for Kim away from the office as, come summer, the family heads to Ohsweken Speedway where her son Jesse continues his long-held passion for the track. It isn’t always easy for Kim as the racetrack does bring with it many potential hazards – Jesse broke his back last year in an accident and has even been set on fire, which she describes as a horrifying moment to watch – but the excitement of the sport is deeply entrenched in the family bloodline.
“I enjoy it because I’m with my family. I’m with my son, my other son comes to help when he can. I’m with my son’s girlfriend and now they’re expecting a baby,” Kim said. “It’s a good way for us to stay connected, stay together, and it’s a community so we have lot of friendships. We are with each other every week and that’s great.”