2017 IW Winners

Executive of the Year - Iroquois Falls

Lee-Ann St.Jacques

Lee-Ann St.Jacques

Growing up in a family of nine children in Iroquois Falls, it was an early lesson from her father that set the tone for Lee-Ann St. Jacques’ personal and professional life.

“The health of the community is dependent on the people that live in it, so if you do not participate in your community, then you’re sitting on the sidelines,” her father counselled.

So, St. Jacques decamped to Sudbury, where she completed her education in Business Administration and Marketing, before returning to her hometown to get married, raise a family, and contribute her piece to the community.

For the last 27 years, St. Jacques has worked in housing, and currently serves as the area manager of housing services for the Cochrane District Social Services District Administration Board (DSSAB), which has a catchment area encompassing Moosonee, Hearst, Kapuskasing, Cochrane, Iroquois Falls, Timmins and Matheson.

During that time, she’s learned to turn challenges into opportunities, and people have come to rely on her as a trustworthy advocate for better community housing.

“In Northern Ontario, it’s not only about your resume; it’s about your character,” she said.

In 2000, the province transferred responsibility for public housing to the municipalities, and St. Jacques, galvanized by the needs of the community members she serves, forged a plan for a new approach to housing.

“Public housing could now take a different look moving forward,” she said. “We’ve been fortunate to be able to develop and deliver different types of housing for the communities in Northern Ontario.”

First, she integrated the services of the DSSAB, Ontario Works, Service Ontario and Service Canada into one new building. Then, she secured $2.5 million in funding for new, two-bedroom townhouses for seniors.

Following that, she launched a second public-private partnership constructing a $9-million facility comprised of 32 affordable, supported housing units for seniors — the first of its kind in the province — which also created 14 full- and part-time jobs.

St. Jacques’ passion for strengthening her community has spilled out well beyond her professional life. She’s helped create the Iroquois Falls Community Garden, the Iroquois Falls Ringette Association, and the Health Promotion Centre. These projects all came together, she said, because of partnerships.

“For me, working collaboratively to achieve a common goal has always been a common thread in all of my successes,” St. Jacques said. “You can’t do it independently, you can’t do it alone, and there are greater results when you partner with people.”

She views these structures and organizations as part of her legacy. Yet, she still has some future goals in her sights.

There is an urgent need for transitional housing for those dealing with mental health and addictions issues. She’d also like to see more affordable assisted living for seniors who remain without permanent accommodations.

And, somewhere on that distant horizon, retirement looms.

“I can see it coming, but I’m still not ready,” she said. “I’ve always been goaloriented, and I will always work for our communities, whether that be professionally or privately in my own personal life.”

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