Janet Riopel has big dreams for Edmonton, and as the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce's newly minted president she is uniquely placed to get the ball rolling. "I have the best of everything now," she says. "I have the best job in the world because I get to continue to do this."
Riopel is a native Edmontonian with an impressive resume of experience managing complex, multi-stakeholder projects. She has worked as a senior advisor and manager in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors for over ten years. Before that, she spent close to 20 years in land development and running her own communications consulting practice. She has extensive experience leading teams, developing corporate strategy, managing finances, developing business and building relationships with all levels of government and community groups. Partnerships have always been an important part of her career, she says. “Nobody can accomplish as much if they work alone,” she says.
When Riopel isn't working, she's volunteering; she has been on the board of the Compassion House Foundation since 2009. She has also volunteered with MacEwan University and Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation and the United Way of Alberta. Like most full time career women who are also mothers, it hasn't always been easy to find the balance between her family, private life and work. One way she made it work was to bring her children with her on her various activities. Now they too are movers and shakers.
The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce is the largest Chamber in the country, but Riopel's goal is to grow it even more. "We want to be the sought after voice of business," she says. "We work on policy development each and every day." The ECC wants Edmontonians to celebrate the city's achievements, such as hosting the FIFA Women's World Cup, which is coming to the city in June. "Events like FIFA inspire people," says Riopel. She has other goals for her five year term-- help diversify the economy, promote trade, reduce poverty in the downtown core and inspire youth into taking leadership positions so the next generation of kids that was born here, stays here. She would like Edmonton become a world class city, a rival to New York, Vancouver or Montreal. Some of her motivation is selfish, she says. This is her town; she grew up here, she raised her kids here and she wants the best possible future here for her children's children.
"If we don't change things we'll be back where we were last year," she says. "It might be a little more pronounced from year to year, when you're dependent on a single sector that's what happens. We want to build a stable revenue stream. What that means I can't tell you right now, but it's worth exploring."
A quintessential wedding ceremony venue is on the market for new owners.
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