10 Qs with
leila brown, sunny kler, Jennifer Patchell,
& Jennet Rozyeva
Members of York Region’s Community and Health Services Department Emergency Management Team
6. Name the top 5 benefits of working in an
1. HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE INDUSTRY?
LEILA: Empathy, understanding of work-life balance, relationships, honesty, support for each other – having each other’s backs, understanding of each other’s perspectives.
7. What makes this team work successfully? How do you MANage this?
As we are in charge of our department – Community and Health Services Department – we all have portfolios/branches divided amongst us. Jennifer P has Commissioners Office, Housing Services and Emergency Social Services. Leila B has Integrated Business Services. Sunny K has Seniors Services. Jennet R has Paramedic Services and Operational Planning, and Emergency Social Services. Every couple of years we get shuffled and get to support and work on other portfolios, so the branches get different perspectives, support and cross training.
LEILA: On the day Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, I received my acceptance into York University’s emergency management program. Given my mid-career detour into the industry (as a single mom with two daughters in university), I needed to hit the ground running. During my years in university, I took ‘student’ contracts, gaining experience in different levels of government, and bringing my varied skill set to each of those contracts.
8. What are your personal contributions to the team’s success?
2. Tell us about what your unit does. How long has this been an all-Women’s Unit?
- Strategic advice when developing emergency and business continuity plans
- Community emergency planning (including Emergency Social Services)
- Business continuity planning
- Incident response and incident recovery planning
- Emergency preparedness/response education, training and exercises
- Support when organizing After Action Reviews or developing After Action Reports
Officially, this unit became an all-Women’s Unit on May 12, 2022. Unofficially we’ve been one since mid-March.
- Honest discussions about what’s working and what isn’t
- I’m a bit of a devil’s advocate
- I’ll be the first to question positions of “But we’ve always done it this way”
- Continuity. I’ve been in the organization the longest and bring the history to the table.
3. WHAT PROJECT ARE YOU THE MOST PROUD OF?
9. Since the beginning of this team, what is an obstacle
that you have overcome?
LEILA: Connection to the rest of emergency planning in the department; we were working in branches; once we were brought together to work as a unit, it added strength, collaboration and connection.
10. What advice would give to someone getting their start in the field?
LEILA: Distribution of 300,000 masks at the start of covid to high-priority populations in York Region; worked with community agencies, food banks and local programs to help get the masks to those that need them.
4. What is your favorite part about working in all women’s unit?
LEILA: Friendships, empathy, support for each other, sharing our lives, and varied life experiences.
LEILA: Look at EM and BCP as equally important, in your education, training, experiences; don’t discount one for the other. Join local EM groups; attend education opportunities; establish relationships. Get a mentor; find someone who is willing to share their experience and knowledge with you; use them as a sounding board. Don’t hesitate to move laterally; don’t hesitate to move employers; take opportunities when they are available.
5. How has your experience been different working in all Women’s Unit vs working in a previous workplace?
LEILA: Previous experience in mixed or male-dominated environments encouraged workaholics, discouraged taking time off maternity and paternity leaves or just selfcare, and lacked empathy.