POLITICAL DIRECTOR, VICE PRESIDENT
Councillor Kathy Vassilakos
How long have you been on the Board and what position do you currently hold?
Board member since September 2019. Political Director.
What municipality or organization do you represent?
City of Stratford, Councillor
What is your educational and professional background?
I have a PhD (Biochemistry) from the University of Toronto. BSc and MSc from McMaster University. Worked as a research scientist in the biotechnology sector and as a consultant prior to being elected to city council.
The OMWA is a not-for-profit organization and all Board positions, including yours, are all volunteer, what inspired you to become an OMWA Board Member?
Water and wastewater management are critical responsibilities of municipalities. As Chair of the Infrastructure, Transportation, and Safety Committee of Stratford City Council I feel it is important to advocate for strong public water and wastewater management. In addition I thought my background in biochemistry would bring a unique perspective to the board.
What do you hope to see in the future for OMWA?
I would like to see expanded membership outreach and education using digital tools. I would also like to continue to bring OMWAs unique “made in Ontario” perspective to upper levels of government.
What would you say to a 16-year-old student considering a career path in water?
Water is our most important natural resource. A career in water and wastewater management is an excellent choice that combines long-term opportunities for both personal development and service to the public interest.
What advice would you give to a new graduate considering a position in the water industry?
No municipality is too small. Some of the best job experiences are in small municipalities where employees are exposed to the full range of operations.
What’s your hometown?
Grew up on a farm in Oro-Medonte, but have lived in Midland, Penetanguishene, Hamilton, Mississauga, Toronto, and Stratford.
What brought you to Ontario?
Have lived here all my life.
What was your first job?
Babysitting. Have also picked crops, worked in restaurants (kitchen and front of house), marketing warehouse, tree planting in Northern Ontario, tutored math and science, and gardening and landscaping. First “real” job was as a pre-clinical research scientist for a biotechnology company developing potential cancer drugs.
What challenges have you had to overcome in your career?
Being a woman in science has had its challenges however I was in school and industry at a time when there were more and more women which made it easier.
What are some of your hobbies or how do you spend your free time?
Gardening , reading, and occasionally mountain biking.
What is something quirky about you?
I have a love/hate relationship with rabbits and hares.
What was your most prized toy as a child, and why?
I had a tricycle I loved as a child – the incident of my uncles using its metal seat to launch fireworks angers me to this day. Also had a doll named Lola that I dragged around for a very long time.
If you could have a t-shirt printed with a message, what would it be?
My people skills are slowly improving.