Member Profile: Joni Leger, New Brunswick Community College
What work did you do before joining NBCC and Springboard?
Before coming to the New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) I worked in the non-profit sector with a couple different organizations devoted to women’s issues and women’s equality.
There, I was working with new mothers by assisting them through their pregnancy, any post-partum depression, and all the risks that are associated with post-partum period. That evolved into working with women and new mothers even more directly to help with education, broadening opportunities and eliminating the socio-economic barriers they face. But eventually, I felt that I had to switch to something else because that work can get a little heavy at times.
I still have a passion for social justice issues, but I needed to get into something that was another use of my skillset.
And that’s when you joined NBCC?
Yes, the opportunity to join NBCC presented itself in November of 2015. I saw a position for an Applied Research Development Officer and my experience matched all the required skills for that role. So, when I officially came on at NBCC I thought, ‘this is exactly what I need right now’, it’s not emotionally taxing work and I still get to help people. This time it’s helping industry partners by helping design a better widget or apply for money for an applied research project, it was a really interesting transition.
So, how did the Springboard network help during that transition phase?
I had to dive right in and hit the ground running at NBCC, so my first Springboard meeting was amazing. Sitting in the room with these people throwing all these new acronyms around was intimidating but everyone was happy to help to get me up to speed. What really struck me about the network was the comfort level that everyone had with each other, myself included. I saw the comradery in the network, and I thought ‘wow, this is a great place to place to be’. At that time, I still wasn’t sure where I fit in at NBCC, but I knew that whatever [Springboard] is, it’s pretty awesome.
It took me a couple more network meetings, but eventually I understood how Springboard and NBCC are connected, and the value of that partnership.
And what is the value of Springboard for you now?
Because [NBCC] has a very small office, there aren’t a lot of people to share ideas with or ask questions, so having access to this pan-Atlantic network is absolutely essential for me. I can look to the other Springboard members as examples on how to do certain projects and directly approach them with questions. Every single member of the network that I’ve reached out to, has always given great advice, shared information or helped out with whatever was asked.
What has this role taught you?
Networking. I was never afraid to pick up a phone and make calls in any of my previous roles, that’s part of what you have to do if you want to meet people and talk to people, but through the Springboard network, I learned more about networking and collaboration amongst colleagues.
What motivates you in working with Springboard?
There are some people that for me, personally, I look to and think ‘wow’. I feel inspired by my Springboard colleagues when I see them in action and see how they interact with other members.
Well, when I did my undergrad and my master’s, I was very fortunate to have strong and supportive female mentors. I learned the foundations of research while pursuing my Bachelor of Arts degree at Mount Allison University where I completed an honours thesis in psychology under the supervision of Dr. Louise Wasylkiw. I then completed my Master’s in Applied Health Services Research at the University of New Brunswick with Dr. Nicole Letourneau who taught me the value of applied research to inform and improve practice.
While both were inspiring mentors, most of my experiences were limited to one-on-one interactions with them. When I came into the Springboard network, I discovered a whole cluster of these strong, amazing women doing this work.
As a woman, especially when you’re still trying to find your place, I really appreciated having all these role models and colleagues to work with. It’s inspiring because then you can see yourself in that position, you can see that growth and see the opportunities that are out there for professional women.
That’s one of the main values of the network, being able to watch others and then seeing yourself in that.