QA Jamie Anderson3

Q&A with Jamie Anderson


Mar 7, 2021 in Student Stories

Jamie Anderson is not one to waste time. Scheduled to graduate in the NACLAA Level I certificate in June, she has already completed a course for the Level II program, as part of her plan of taking home another Extension credential in 2022.

An experienced municipal administrator, Jamie is currently the Director of Emergency Management & Health and Safety Coordinator for the County of Warner No. 5, Alberta.

What do you do in your current position?

My role falls within two primary pillars: emergency management and health and safety. For the emergency management side, my day-to-day is all about preparing for disaster and getting ready for “those days” when we’ll be faced with flooding, fire, tornado, or, like now, a pandemic. Then, when disaster does happen, I act as incident commander on behalf of the region. On the safety side, I develop, implement, and oversee health and safety programs.

What excites you the most about your job?

I think it’s the diversity of tasks I’m involved with. In smaller municipalities, staff frequently will fill multiple roles. There is such a broad range of responsibilities, that each day can be a new adventure. Something like COVID-19 comes around and you find yourself exercising your brain to find new solutions to questions you never thought you might need to ask.

How did the Faculty of Extension come into your life?

Back when I worked for the Operations department with the Town of Pincher Creek, I’d often feel overwhelmed about aspects of the job I did not understand. One day when I was particularly frustrated, I announced to my boss, “I need to get better at this! I need to function without feeling underwater for dealing with concepts and legislation I have never heard of.” He answered right away with the solution to my problems: I should look into taking the NACLAA program.

How has your education at Extension impacted your work life?

My program has done exactly what I wanted it to do: it has prepared me for the “out of left field” tasks that are a common reality in municipal government. I have become a more well-rounded and versatile employee within my organization, as I have a better understanding of the processes that give context to my job. The program helped me to see the workings of municipal government as interconnected pieces of the same machine.

What’s the best thing about your program?

The best thing about NACLAA is that it is designed for real people—living real lives and facing real challenges—who still want the opportunity to further develop their careers. Balancing a full career while being a single mom, I know firsthand how willing the staff are to work with students. The Faculty of Extension truly is schooling that fits your life rather than your life needing to fit your schooling.

Are you a ‘believer’ in continuing and professional education?

Before my experience with Extension, I knew that it was something I wanted to do “one day.” Now, I can say I am absolutely a believer. I know that self-development, personal growth, and investing in my education will continue to be a part of my journey.

Have your continuing and professional education goals evolved as you progressed through the program?

My initial goal was to diversify my knowledge in order to be more of an asset to any organization I was in, and I feel as though I have achieved that. When I set this goal, the finish line was the end of the NACLAA program. Now I see continuing and professional education becoming a permanent part of my life and not just the pursuit of a specific finish line.

Any new learning adventures on the horizon?

I am currently looking into a few options, including transitioning into the completion of the IAPP and ALUP certificates. I might even decide to bolster my safety background—the sky is the limit!

Any “words of wisdom” for learners just starting the program?

Once I realized that there was some crossover between NACLAA and other programs offered at Extension, I started to pick my elective courses very strategically. I don’t know if most students are aware of those possibilities from the get-go. You can build upon the courses you take within the NACLAA program and apply them to other certificates. There are so many options and so many doors that open!

Who would you recommend the NACLAA program to?

I would recommend the NACLAA program to absolutely anyone who has an interest in municipal government. It doesn’t matter if you’re an intern, a summer student, or a CAO. I have taken courses with people from each of those levels, and I have learned something from each of them.