Portfolio, Speeches

Speech to next year’s PR students

auditorium benches chairs class
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Good morning everyone.

As a graduate, I’m flattered to be asked to share my thoughts and experiences on the PR Intensive program.

When I first walked in here, I thought, “Is this classroom older than me?”  I haven’t been in a formal school for about 20 years, so this room really made me feel young.

I want you to know that you’re never too old to go back to school.  I quit my full time, steady, stable job just to be here.

Let me tell you more about what it feels like to be back in school full time after working full time for 20+ years.

You have tonnes of real work experience to tie in to everything you’re going to learn here.  Whether you’re looking for a new job or improving your skills for the one you have, so much will click into place once you start learning in this program.

This is an intensive program, so you “get” the professionalism part.  There will be multiple and competing priorities, many deadlines and lots of group work.  These are all things you’ve probably had to do in your jobs before you came here.

When you go out to look for a job after completing this program, you likely won’t have to start at the bottom.  The practical skills you learn here, combined with the skills you brought in will make you a stronger candidate in the marketplace.  Plus, you already have a network to draw on for your new job search.

You’re going to find new strengths here.  You might be a pretty good writer and you didn’t realize it because you’ve never had the opportunity flex that muscle before.

You might find some clarity.  Your direction will become clearer once you get into the courses a little deeper.  Maybe you’ll want to try the research career path but never thought about it until you started taking the class.

You will find that when you tell people you quit your job to go back to school, and how much you love it, everyone will say they wish they had done it too.

There are many reasons why everyone can’t do this.  Or don’t do this.  But you did.  You found a way, and you made it work.  If you’re in doubt, let me tell you again.  You’re not too old to go back to school.  You’re never too old to go back to school.

Next year when Nick asks one of you to come back and give a speech to the new class, and you’re in your new kick-ass job, make some time to come back and pay it forward.




News Release, Portfolio

Downtown Oakville BIA media kit

Oakville Business Improvement Association

News Release

June 1, 2018



Summer marketplace heats up downtown Oakville

Drinks and eats, in the streets

OAKVILLE, ON – On Friday June 1st, 2018, downtown Oakville closed Lakeshore Drive to traffic and extended its hours to welcome shoppers to the Marketplace in the City.

“In the past three years, downtown Oakville has experienced a 20 per cent decline in foot traffic.  We’ve come up with a great solution to bring people back to enjoy the downtown again,” says Joanna MacDonald, President of the Oakville BIA and owner of Kitty in the City.

Lakeshore Drive between Navy Street and Trafalgar Road is closed to cars on Friday and Saturday evenings, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.  Pedestrians can explore the unique shops and restaurants in the neighbourhood on foot.  Tables and chairs are set up on the street in front of restaurants, so customers can dine “al fresco.”  The town square is transformed into a farmers’ and crafters’ market featuring locally- grown food and crafts and local musicians perform on the stage in the square each week.

“Bringing people back to downtown Oakville is essential to the health of our businesses and the development of this community,” says MacDonald.  “My hope is that this marketplace inspires people to shop locally and support small businesses in Oakville.”



Heather Bodajla

Media Relations Manager



Speech to Oakville city council to ask for money to support downtown marketplace initiative

Good evening everyone.  I’m Joanna MacDonald, owner of Kitty in the City, here in beautiful downtown Oakville.

As a local business owner, and president of the Oakville Business Improvement Association, I’ve experienced an alarming 10 per cent drop in sales year over year.  I don’t know about my fellow professionals, but I can’t continue to stay open if this is the trend.

The Oakville BIA has decided to do something about it.  We’re opening the doors of restaurants and businesses to celebrate our vibrant community and encourage citizens to visit and shop local.  It’s called the Marketplace in the City.  I’m here to ask for your support for this initiative to revitalize businesses in downtown Oakville.  We are asking for a grant of $10,000.

I think one of the biggest problems is that stores are only open until 6 p.m. in this area.  If we extend store hours to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, it gives patrons time to get home from work and make their way to Lakeshore for dinner and some shopping.

It is essential to block off Lakeshore Drive between Navy Street and Trafalgar Road to cars, so people can walk around safely.  Plus, this gives the opportunity for local restaurants to set up outdoor seating on portions of the sidewalk and street.  Customers will be able to eat “al fresco” while people-watching from their tables.  Picture the look and feel of a European piazza, but in downtown Oakville.

We’re going to transform the town square into an outdoor farmers’ and crafters’ marketplace.  Twenty-five vendors will sell locally-grown food, locally-created crafts, jewelry, soap and art.  Each week, a musician will perform on the stage in the square.  Our first week will have international singer-songwriter Sarah Harmer from Oakville.

Believe me when I say, we are going to bring energy back to downtown Oakville.

We are asking the council for a $10,000 grant to cover some advertising, permits to close the street, signage and equipment rentals.

As you can see, we have put together a great selection of exciting experiences that will attract a diverse group of visitors to our downtown core.  With all of this momentum, I’m sure our local businesses will have no problem convincing people to shop local and make a weekly visit part of their routines.

Photo by Mauru00edcio Mascaro on Pexels.com