Good turnout for first Speaker Series event

There was a good turnout for the first Speaker Series at Medicine Hat Public Library on International Women’s Day. Eight speakers took the stage Wednesday, staring with MHPL board chair Rebecca Harper.

Harper talked about growing up and wanting to leave Medicine Hat but always ended up returning. After her final move back here, she started setting down permanent roots and attended her first meeting of the MHPL board. She put her name forward to become chair and, as she was the only one, received the post by acclimation. Harper says she has a great love of libraries and her initial thought when asked to speak at the event, was that the story of becoming chair was 10 seconds long. However, nothing in life is so simple and each day and year leads us to where we currently are.

Creative director of Pattison Media Kelly Moore took the audience on a journey through her career in broadcasting and how she is constantly opening new doors for herself. Both her and Karri Montean, owner of Botanicals, forged new paths during the pandemic and were able to seize opportunities as they arose.

Real estate professional Elizabeth McNally received applause before getting on the stage and was thanked by an audience member after her talk for sponsoring free library cards. McNally looked up some stats and found that nationally 64% of realtors are woman, but in Medicine Hat it’s only 44%. However, most of the brokerages and leadership positions in Medicine Hat are run and owned by women whereas nationally they are not well represented in those positions.

“I thought that was very exciting, that Medicine Hat is always different,” said McNally.

Marina Boese, who became head of marketing services for MHPL a few months ago, talked about her career in the automotive industry and the challenges of being a woman in a workforce that is still male-dominated. Boese had wanted to move to Medicine Hat for years, and when the job opened at MHPL she jumped at the chance.

Research technologist Amber Stark, who does research for the Department of National Defence, gave a lively and fun presentation. She outlined the type of work she does at the base and some of the training she provides to soldiers who might come in contact with contaminated items. Stark was an optician who returned to school as a mature student to change career paths and was enthusiastic about promoting girls to apply themselves to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects.

Jessica Lawrence, owner of Renu by Jeska Rabbit, gave a high-energy talk where she encouraged all present to set boundaries in their lives and then stick to them. Suggestions involved turning off notifications on phones at certain times, to ensuring to carve out time each day to do something restorative.

Closing out the evening was Mayor of Medicine Hat Linnsie Clark, who had posed a series of questions to ChatGPT – an artificial intelligence chatbot – and went through the results for the audience. The questions were about why it is difficult for women to be in politics, then the same question for men and the third was why any gender would find going into politics difficult.

SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News