I was 12 when I entered KCSS in 1973. Then I was known as a precocious, opinionated American jock; and some might say I still am. My journey to KCSS was a circuitous one via Ithaca NY, Louisville Kentucky, Milwaukee Wisconsin, Rochester NY, Baltimore Maryland and countless other stops along the way. The travelling was driven by the ambition of my musician Father until he landed a job with the TSO. He then finally laid down some roots in a rented farmhouse on King Township’s sixth concession, just north of the 15th side road. After all the big cities and apartment dwelling this seemed an unlikely spot for us to stay in one place. In fact, we stayed there for what seemed like an eternity to a girl used to moving every six months. When I was planning my courses for Grade 9, with an eye to ensuring my early goal of law school, my mother told me not to worry, “we won’t be here for long.” But five years later I celebrated a KCSS graduation looking over the pond at 6 AM the morning after my Senior Prom.
Reflecting on the years at KCSS I’ve been trying to find the thread that led me to where I am today. Looking back it might be hard to reconcile how a young girl whose idea of a torturous grounding was missing basketball, volleyball, badminton, track or softball practice would turn into producer and writer/director of films and TV. But athletics were the centre of my life at KCSS, alongside working car washes, the school Fair, playing in the band, and serving on student council. Since I had to live in one place for five long years, I kept moving by keeping busy after school every night with some athletic or school activity. So, I guess being busy and active is the thread of my story, the theme of what I have come to think of as my “most amazing life.”
After KCSS I spent three years at Queen’s University, where I changed my major three times before I finally landed in Film Studies, but I was anxious to finish school and get to work. I moved to Toronto and quickly landed a job at CTV and went on to become a full-time storyteller, a filmmaker and television producer. In the 90s, I travelled to Japan for CTV to cover the explosion of Kaizen and the success of Toyota, then on to Los Angeles to work with my film history hero Elwy Yost where we interviewed Hollywood legends for the 20th anniversary of Saturday Night at the Movies. I worked for CBC and Global TV and worked on the 1988 Calgary Olympics and Wide World of Sports. Alongside Daniel Richler at Imprint I interviewed some of the world’s great authors and I’ve met the world’s best surgeons and scientists, activists and innovators. I was mentored by some of Canada’s broadcast elite; people such as Peter Herrndorf who created The Journal and 5th Estate, and Jack McGaw who gave me my first producing job at LiveITUp! I’ve been lucky to have produced award winning programs, give speeches to businesses and students, and I was even named one of Canada’s Most Powerful 100 Women in 2011.
I get to travel and create and learn every day of my life. And for the past 14 years I been able to do it all alongside our incredible young talent at Q Media Solutions, a communications agency I built with my husband Richard Quinlan. Our motto is telling powerful stories that inspire, enlighten and make change. We believe in giving back and it’s built into the fiber of our business. Alongside big Fortune 500 company clients, we work for SickKids, PMH, YMCA, Wellspring, the Boys and Girls Clubs. It gives us a chance to take risks, use our excess capacity, give opportunity for growth, insight and inspiration to our staff and it makes us all happy.
In 2008 that commitment led to the development of Getinvolved, a 100-part TVO television series and Getinvolved.ca, Canada’s largest volunteer network that matches organizations and individuals who want to make a difference. In 2010, along with major corporate partners that include UPS Canada, Manulife Financial, RBC and Home Depot, we spearheaded Power of the Hour, a national campaign, rallying companies and citizens to pledge 2,000,000 volunteer hours. By April of 2010 we surpassed our goal and hit 3,500,000 pledged hours.
So what have I learned? High school is our first big opportunity to define and explore who we are and how we want to engage with the world. At KCSS, I learned to collaborate with my teammates and my classmates in sports, music and student leadership. I learned that I loved variety and I have continued to be as involved as I can in a world that’s full of possibilities. And I’ve been so lucky, I’ve been given the opportunity to contribute to the issues I care about by telling and sharing stories that can entertain and educate and hopefully (fingers crossed) make a difference.
Not bad for a precocious, opinionated brown-nosed American jock.