4 local women on pursuing their goals and being successful in their careers

Commander Robin Brooks — Chief Susan Brown — Stylist & business owner Camilla Millar — Principal Karin Mackenzie-Russell

Article & images by Tim Burgess/above image Karin Mackenzie-Russell

March 8 is International Women’s Day, a day to give recognition, be thankful and celebrate the ongoing achievements of women. According to Internationalwomensday.com, this years theme is “Choose to Challenge.”

Northumberland residents Captain Robin Brooks,  Chief Susan Brown, stylist and business owner Camilla Millar, along with Principal Karin Mackenzie-Russell share a united message for women on this important day: persevere, move through challenges, pursue your goals, and get the job you desire.

Captain Robin Brooks

Captain Robin Brooks, Commanding Officer of 100 First Canadian Parachute Battalion Royal Canadian Army Cadets of Brighton says International Women’s Day is, “an opportunity for the world to acknowledge all of the wonderful things women do to keep our families strong and our communities safe.  Women are beacons of strength – from Queen Elizabeth to Kamala Harris – and all of the women who quietly lead by example – we need to thank them for everything they do.”

The commitment of Commanding Officer for the Army Cadet program she says is very rewarding, requiring a lot of time away from her family but she is happy to help young adults to achieve their goals and assist them in any way she can. Captain Brooks advice for young women is, “Be yourself, work hard and never give up on your dreams – I am so happy I didn’t.”

Chief Susan Brown, a paramedic for 29 years and now Chief /Director of the Northumberland Paramedics points out the importance of having teachers and leaders. ”I was always involved in athletics through public school and into high school. My teachers and coaches supported and encouraged me to develop my personal skills while still being a strong contributor to the overall team dynamics … During my emergency training at Niagara College, I was lucky enough to be instructed and mentored by female Paramedics and Professors. This provided inspiration and confirmation that I could be successful in my career.”

Chief Susan Brown

Positive role models are important for the inspiration and motivation they provide says Brown mentioning Northumberland County CAO Jennifer Moore who said, “There is a lot of work still to be done to make the world a more equal place. IWD (International Women’s Day) focuses the conversation on the work that everyone can and should be doing to challenge that inequity and create change.“

Chief Brown believes that it’s important to celebrate the achievements of women and girls and continue to bring attention to the gender inequality that persists around the world. “There is an increasing number of women entering first responder professions, which were historically male-dominated professions. Women now represent about a third of Canada’s front-line paramedics –that number is higher in Northumberland where our service is about a 50/50 split. She claims times have changed for the better during her career as there are more opportunities for women in all professions and for women entering the paramedic field.

Chief Brown’s advice to women is, “Always follow your dreams. Be the best you can be, follow your interests and continue to develop yourself personally and professionally. If you enjoy what you are doing you will achieve your goals. Don’t ever set limits on your abilities. Drawing from my sport and leadership background, I will always remember my favourite saying when coaching baseball – You can never make it to second base with your foot on first. Take the initiative, and try it out. You will always learn and further develop yourself and your skills through all life experiences.”

An early Co-op placement from high school gave hair stylist Camilla Millar the energy, desire and inspiration to become a hairstylist for the past 20 years and an entrepreneur with her own hairstyling shop in Colborne. ”I always knew I was meant to do this, from a young age I was always fascinated by doing hair.” She adds, “be dedicated, reliable, listen, and be fearless. Follow your heart!”

Camilla recounts many mentors that helped her on her journey and specifically 2 local hair stylists and local hair studio owners, Carolyn Whaley and Brighton stylist Keitha. She adds that if you enjoy what you are doing, you will enjoy going to work every day.

Camilla Millar

As a role model, Karin Mackenzie-Russell believes in building relationships, making connections and working with very strong women who are proud to be women and that doing so helped her in her career as Principal at East Northumberland Secondary School. “We need to continue to acknowledge how important woman are,” she explains. There are challenges every day in all work environments and the educator agrees that we need to work toward meeting needs equitably to succeed.  Her advice for young women is that they have a strong moral compass and, “Persevere; maintain your philosophy; do not cave to pressures that do not serve you”. 

Karin Mackenzie-Russell


Today, celebrate the women in your life!

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