Qualified to lead, qualified to advocate, qualified to represent you
Elaine's career has led her around the globe, equipping her with a remarkable range of skills and knowledge that she brings to the Board of Trustees table.
Elaine's Story As an Au Paire near Paris following high school, Elaine refined her French language skills. This helped her later to shepard her three children through SD42's French Immersion program and vacation at the BC Family French Camp with them for nine summers. And while working as an editor in Tokyo for the national broadcasting service (NHK), she began to learn Japanese and to teach English as a second language, gaining a solid understanding of how language aquisition feels for both student and teacher. After graduating from the University of Toronto with a BA in International Relations, she served in a trade promotion and investment attraction role for the Ontario Government, covering assignments in Southeast Asia, Japan and the Americas. She was then seconded to the Information Technology section and learned systems implementation and project management when computers were still a novel technology for government offices. This role taught her how to idenitfy the needs of end users and direct the building of the program to address those needs. This skill is useful in the school governance setting. From there she moved into private sector IT consulting and moved to BC, the birthplace of her mother and father. In fact, her maternal grandparents were pioneers in Pitt Meadows before their forced relocation to Manitoba during WWII. This has given her an intimate perspective on historical events and empathy for those that suffer adversity. She gained further insight into government relations as the speechwriter and executive assistant to the Consul General of Japan in Vancouver. At this point, she met Christian Cowley, married him and together, they chose Maple Ridge to raise their three lovely children. Once her youngest was of school age, Elaine returned to work as a trade officer for the Japan External Trade Organization for a spell before moving her work attention fully onto Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows as an independent contracter in several neighbourhood development roles. She quickly discovered the joys of working in her own community and sought to act on her passion for literacy, community development and food skills as you can see from her current work roles shown below. As the literacy coordinator, Elaine has learned to successfully advocate for funding for the gaps identified in adult literacy resources. She has also had ample time to practise representation as she helps learners with low literacy navigate the complexities of government services. This work has also allowed her to connect to many of the 80 member organizations of the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Katzie Community Network. She will bring the knowledge of the players and the resources available in the community to her role as Trustee.
Literacy Coordinator, Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Katzie Community Literacy Committee
Elaine raises awareness of literacy issues, creates programs to help people improve their skills, connects people to resources, and raises and administers funds.She is most proud of having launched the First Books program in our area, arranging to distribute more than 20,000 new books to the children of low-income families in collaboration with community groups and individuals. Her dedicated volunteers also stock donated books in the Book Bins in 16 locations in Ridge Meadows so that reading is accessible and within reach of all. Elaine reports monthly to the MRPMK Community Network, a collaborative body that comprises 80 or more organizations.
Coordinator, Hive Neighbourhood Centre @ Eric Langton Elementary
The concept behind the Hive is to bring many of the support services that young families need into one location so that they don't have to chase all over for them during the busy child-rearing years. Elaine coordinates the agencies and individuals that deliver the services and programs. She also sets up and runs family food skills programs and a parent networking group at the Hive. In 2010, with the help of some enthusiastic volunteers, Elaine launched the first of 16 Children's Clothing Freecycles. The Freecycles gather and sort donations from the community and then offer the donations back to any interested families. The Freecycles reduce landfill waste while helping local families stretch their clothing budgets.
past community work
Neighbourhood Program Developer, City of Maple Ridge
As an independent contracter to the Building Community Solutions program, Elaine promoted the Block Party and neighbourhood improvement grant programs and provided support to neighbourhood networking groups.
past career positions
Trade Officer, Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO)
Executive Assistant to the Consul General of Japan in Vancouver
Systems Project Manager, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Trade and Investment Officer, Ontario Ministry of Industry, Trade & Technology
ESL Teacher, private school, Tokyo, Japan
Editor, NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corp), Tokyo, Japan
International Relations (BA) University of Toronto
Au Paire, private family, Le Plessis-Belleville, France