Dr. Bill Donahue:
The combination of Bill’s scientific and academic credentials and his industry and NGO experience, make him an excellent addition to the AEMERA team.
Prior to joining AEMERA, Val lead her own strategic communication consulting firm for 10 years, working primarily on environmental and community projects and issues. Before becoming a consultant, she served as a senior communications director in three different ministries for the Government of Alberta – Environment, Innovation and Science, and Economic Development – and prior to that, she was the head of communications and press secretary to the Premier of the Northwest Territories in Yellowknife. While working for the NWT government, Val was actively involved in the creation of the territory of Nunavut, and the approvals and introduction of Canada’s first diamond mines.
In addition to working in government, Val has worked in communications and leadership position with PanCanadian Petroleum (now EnCana), Keyano College in Fort McMurray, and as newspaper newspaper editor and reporter in Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie and Peace River – all of which has helped her develop a broad range of contacts and experience that are a benefit to her position in leading AEMERA’s strategy and external relations team and efforts.
Q: What made you want to come work for AEMERA?
Bill Donahue (BD): As a vocal critic of environmental monitoring and decision making in Alberta, I saw this as an opportunity to walk the talk and help improve environmental monitoring in Alberta. AEMERA has a unique opportunity to increase science capacity in the province, change the direction of environmental monitoring and raise the level of discussion by providing decision-makers and the public with access to legitimate, science-based data and information.
Val Mellesmoen (VM): Having worked extensively on environmental communications and business development in the past, I followed and supported the development of AEMERA and thought it was a move in the right direction for Alberta. I embraced the opportunity to bring this organization to life and help build something important.
Q: What are some of the challenges facing your right now as new Vice Presidents?
BD: Right now I am feeling handcuffed by the legacy of an overly bureaucratic system – a challenge will be creating efficiencies. As a small, flat organization, AEMERA cannot afford on heavy bureaucracy. We need to be responsive and also need to give our people the agency to make decisions. It is a cultural change.
VM: Relationships are the foundation of our credibility as much as the science and a challenge will be to build and maintain strong relationships in a complex and ever changing system. We want to form “meaningful” relationships. Meaningful is in the eye of the beholder – so what does “meaningful” look like to our stakeholder, working partners, First Nation and Métis communities and the public? Understanding the answer to that question, and fostering mutually beneficial relationships for AEMERA, is one of our top priorities right now.
Q: They say every challenge is an opportunity, what are the opportunities at AEMERA?
BD: The opportunities here are unlimited – from remaking environmental monitoring to changing peoples’ expectations on how they get information about their environment. I am most excited about starting on a new trajectory with First Nations and Metis communities. We are looking at new approaches to monitoring in partnership and greater interaction with the communities through community-based monitoring programs.
VM: There is an opportunity to reset the conversation, prove ourselves and earn the trust of our partners, stakeholders and the public. I look forward to showcasing the scientific data and information AEMERA is developing and helping policy makers, communities, industry and the public make better decisions.