Fostering a spirit of giving

Published on August 17, 2023

As a young mom taking night courses in promotional management at NAIT while also balancing a full-time job, Janet witnessed firsthand the need for student financial support. Now semi-retired after a successful 45+-year career, including stints as president and CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and as a member of NAIT’s Board of Governors, she continues to champion an understanding of what it means to give back to the community both as an avid volunteer and a financial backer.

“I feel strongly that in a city and province that offers so much benefit and value, the only way we can be successful is by making sure that our kids grow up healthy and strong, well-educated and committed to their community,” she says.

Inspired by her own post-secondary experience, Janet says she is particularly passionate about creating pathways to education that benefit women and children. As such, she has set up endowment funds at NAIT, MacEwan University and the Edmonton Community Foundation.

“My goal is to build tools that help more women gain access to postsecondary education so they can find impactful work in the community,” Janet says. “Sometimes people just need others to lift them a bit and give them a hand when they need it most.”

It’s her hope that her two children and four grandchildren will continue to grow these endowments into the future.

“At its core, this is about building community. It’s about strengthening and supporting community. And I think it has to be a generational thing.” Janet fosters an understanding of philanthropy in her grandchildren by involving them in acts of giving and doing, including gifting them money at Christmas to donate to their charity of choice. “It has become a family tradition and it encourages my extended family to continue giving long after I’m gone.”

Janet’s work in the Edmonton business community reinforced why supporting NAIT students through scholarship funds — and helping those who are struggling financially to complete their programs —is a valuable investment.

“NAIT has the ability and the capacity to meet our skilled workforce demands,” she says. “It’s uniquely positioned as a polytechnic to offer much of the learning and experience that you simply can’t get anywhere else. Helping others to develop the skills that industry needs is a win-win, and I feel fortunate to play a small part in this.”