Tell us about your journey to Kingswood and your role here over the past 19 years.
I went directly into youth ministry when I graduated from university, but within three years, I knew I needed counselling training I didn’t receive in my undergrad. I stepped out of youth ministry and into a graduate level counselling psychology program. The plan was to step back into youth ministry after earning my master’s degree, but the doors kept closing. In the meantime, I started working in a psychiatric department in a hospital. After ten years in various roles, I called Kingswood University to see if they had a counselling centre. They were just launching a counselling program, and after a year-long conversation with Art Maxwell, I joined the KU team as the Christian Counselling Program Director and Professor in 2003.
After completing my PhD, I started the research to develop a counseling centre for the university. In 2019, the Kingswood University Counseling Centre was officially launched and added to my portfolio of responsibilities. A clinical understanding of whatever topic one is working with is important, and this substantially added to what I could offer to the university. It’s important to me to have a practitioner-teacher approach, and my work with students and community members keeps me current with my skills while I am teaching my students about those same skills.
Why did you say “yes” to the role of Interim VP for Academic Affairs?
David Drury talks about ministering in your sweet spot. I felt I reached that sweet spot in my faculty role, and what I was doing was exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I could see God directing my path to KU and positioning me in this place of contentment, but He had more for me.
The offer for VPAA was completely unexpected but easy to accept because I believe in the value of what we are doing and being able to pitch in that way. I really enjoy it. It’s very different, but it has added to everything I’ve been doing, and everything I’ve been doing has added to it. It’s like wearing bifocals. Initially, it feels like you’re looking through two different lenses, and then you realize you’re looking at the same thing, only with greater clarity.
What has surprised you about the role?
I had no idea what the VPAA role encompassed. You only see a bit of what is happening, not all the paddling underneath. This new role hasn’t changed what I was already doing, relationally, but it has broadened the opportunity and created more avenues to have meaningful conversations with students.
Anyone watching you would say you’ve taken full ownership, rather than the status quo that interim leadership often takes. Why is that?
I’m not here just to take up the space, but to fill it in a way that will last beyond whatever time I’m in this position. I’m after creative ideas that will develop our community in ways that line up with our mission statement. Spiritual formation is a huge priority in this year and in this time, as well as academics and practical experience. I’m looking for innovative ways to do what we do – better, longer, and more effectively.