Leading Beyond and Outside the Rank - Panel

  • October 26, 2023
  • 10:00am-12:00pm
  • FESTI - Fire & Emergency Services Training Institute 2025 Courtneypark Drive, East, Mississauga

Facilitated by FSWO Executive Director Susan Jones(Moderator); Fire Service Women Ontario President Pike Krpan, Fire Service Women British Columbia President Jenn Dawkins, Fire Emergency Services Training Institute Dean Kelly Holden, Laura King NFPA Canadian Regional Director, Michele Vandevord, President National Indigenous fire Safety Council

This session brings together a group of five dynamic women leaders whose personal journeys have ventured outside the traditional rank and file hierarchy to achieve tremendous success in making a difference in helping to diversify and improve Canada’s fire service. FSWO Executive Director Susan Jones who shares a similar diverse background will be the session’s moderator and will focus on highlighting the panel’s various education ,work related and volunteer commitments that speak to the conference theme of “Building Leaders, Driving Change “ All 5 panelist share in having diverse backgrounds and unique experiences that not only has benefitted the fire service industry but has also helped to Educate, Encourage and Empower other women to follow different career paths. The intent of bringing the panelists together is to show that leadership opportunities exist and can be developed in a variety of different ways as well as help promote the concept that there are several roles and functions beyond the traditional fire department work that contribute to the effectiveness of a successful fire service.

Susan Jones

Susan Jones is retired from the City of Ottawa and was the former Acting Deputy City Manager of City Operations at the City responsible for overseeing several City departments. She has held a number of positions in her 37 year career in municipal government which included being the General Manager of Emergency and Protective Services for the City of Ottawa from 2009 to 2015 responsible for managing and directing the delivery of Fire, Paramedic, Corporate Security, Emergency Management, and By-law, Parking and Licensing operations. Susan has been a strong advocate and mentor to women in leadership roles, particularly in male dominated professions and is proud to have helped launch Fire Service Women Ontario (FSWO), Camp FFIT (Female Fire Fighters in Training) and served on the FSWO board of directors. Susan was also an International Trustee with the International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services (iWomen).

Susan has a BA in Criminology from Carleton and was honored to receive the President’s Trailblazer Award in 2016 for her ongoing work and innovative leadership as an advocate for women in the first responder field. Susan is excited to continue working with FSWO as their Executive Director.

Pike Krpan

Pike Krpan is a career firefighter with the City of Hamilton since 2013. They currently serve the firefighting community as FSWO President. They have been a member of FSWO since the beginning of their career. They are the organizer of Camp FFIT (Female Firefighters in Training) Hamilton, an annual three-day camp that takes place every fall at Hamilton Fire's training facility for young women aged 16-20.

Pike is a proud member of an engine crew and also works in communications/dispatch, technical rescue (high angle rope rescue) and as a driver/pump operator at Hamilton Fire. They were the recipient of a full Honeywell Scholarship to FDIC 2016. They studied Pre-Service Firefighter Education at FESTI (Fire and Emergency Services Training Institute) in 2012 and was hired within six months of their graduation.

Pike brings a varied background to their career in the fire service. They completed their Masters of Arts at the Ontario Institute of Education in Sociology and Equity Studies in Education, with a focus on women's issues in education. Previously, they worked in international development education in diverse countries such as Cuba, Ecuador and Jamaica after getting their undergraduate degree in International Development and Women's Studies at Trent University.

Pike is currently a mentor with FSWO's mentorship program and offers assistance to those considering a career in the fire service. They also act as a mentor promoting women in firefighting with the Women in Trades program of the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program as well as with the YWCA Hamilton. They were nominated for a YWCA Hamilton Woman of Distinction Award in 2019 for their work in education and mentoring. They love to introduce people to the challenge of firefighting.

Jenn Dawkins

Jenn Dawkins began her career in Maple Ridge in 1997 where she served 3 years before getting hired in Vancouver in 2000. Currently an acting Captain in Suppression Jenn has been part of several specialties including hazmat, heavy rescue and HUSAR and has worked in many divisions including Recruitment and Outreach, Public Education, and the Training Division. She has been an Instructor with the Justice Institute of BC for several years. In 2010, Jenn was one of the founders of Camp Ignite and served as the Program Director for its first 11 years. She has a Certificate in Emergency Management and is currently completing her Bachelors in Interdisciplinary Studies. In 2021 Jenn became a board member for Fire Service Ontario and through that experience is excited to be FSWBC Founding President and continue her role as a leader serving the Women in the Fire Service British Columbia.

Kelly Holden

Kelly is the first Dean of FESTI, (Fire and Emergency Training Institute). Responsible for the strategic plans, and operational goals of the school, Kelly focuses on establishing a strong ecosystem of diversity, inclusion and success. Over four years, Kelly has transformed FESTI into a learning organization with a culture of team support, student success and fun! Kelly holds a degree in Woman’s Studies as well as a Certificate in Adult Learning. As a certified EQI (Emotional Intelligence) Coach, she understands what it takes to get the best out of her people. Kelly is also a certified Crucial Learning Trainer with a specialization in high-risk conversations. Kelly’s energy and fun-loving personality along with her “say it how it is” attitude will have you on the edge of your seat as you learn what it takes to move from silence to action in a conversation.

Laura King

Laura King is NFPA’s regional director for Canada. Laura was the editor of Fire Fighting in Canada and Canadian Firefighter magazines for 10 years before moving to NFPA in 2017. She was a reporter and editor for more than 20 years for newspapers and magazines across Canada and the United States.

Michelle Vandevord

Michelle Vandevord (Day Star Woman) is an active member of the Muskoday First Nation Volunteer Fire Department and is the longest-serving female firefighter in the department’s history as well as its first female captain. She started her career in Prince Albert as an officer delivering fire prevention programs to communities and is now the executive director of Saskatchewan First Nation Emergency Management (SFNEM) in Prince Albert. She is a member of the Saskatchewan Fire Chiefs Public Education committee and was recognized for her inclusion in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Rising Star Program.

She lives in her community of Muskoday First Nation and is the mother of three daughters and three adopted sons. She is a very proud Kookum to four smart, handsome and funny grandsons.