A Strong Voice for Bay Ward
Theresa grew up as one of six children from an Irish Catholic family in Hamilton and studied Fine Arts at the University of Guelph. She wanted to travel and was accepted by Canada World Youth to go to Sri Lanka. Then she travelled on her own to Nepal, India, Italy and England at the age of 20.
By 1982, Theresa was married, with a baby, and living in Ottawa. She learned to get involved in the community and take care of her family in a holistic way. “Today, they call it networking,” she says. “I just wanted to make friends.”
She tutored kids in math. After taking a media course at Algonquin College, Theresa volunteered at Carleton Radio CKCU and had an idea for a children’s show. It was a hit, with Theresa as the host and featured children’s performers like Raffi and Fred Penner. Renowned Ottawa children’s toy store Mrs. Tiggy Winkles became a sponsor. She continued this weekly show for about three years.
“Kids get you thinking about values,” says Theresa. “I wanted to do more to make the future better for them. I wanted to do something to benefit the community that more and more I was becoming part of.”
She decided to get involved in the New Democratic Party’s Ottawa West Riding Executive and in 1988 won the nomination to be a candidate in that year’s federal election. She credits the experience of running for election with sparking her commitment to public service. Theresa went on to work on Parliament Hill, where a successful 30-year career continues.
In 2010 Theresa took another big step in community involvement and responsibility. She ran to represent Bay Ward (zone 4) on the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. She was re-elected in 2014 and, over eight years on the Board, she has worked closely with families on the organization of school programs.
“I work with all Board members equally,” says Theresa. “My motivation is to do the right thing for kids and families in my area and throughout the city. I want to take that philosophy and make it my goal at City Hall.”
Running in elections isn’t the only ‘running’ Theresa has done. She is an accomplished amateur athlete and has run in three Boston Marathons.
“I wasn’t sure I could run,” she says. “When I realized I could do it, and it felt good, then I was hooked.”
Theresa regularly commutes to work by bike, for the health benefits and the environment.
“It’s also an economical way to commute,” she says. “I want to make it easier for more people to do it if they choose. It’s what a livable city means to me – practical options.”