On February 6th, I had the pleasure of meeting an amazing woman – Christie Whitley, President and CEO of the Dalai Lama Center based here in Vancouver. What an honour it is to have had the opportunity to have a one on one conversation with a woman of her caliber. She’s a leader, a wife, a mother of seven, and a grandmother of eight, soon to be nine!
She grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba and lived there for the majority of her life. In 1995 she moved to the Yukon, following her husband’s career. It was a difficult adjustment at first, but she quickly grew to love her second home, where she became a principal. While there is a warm and embracing culture up North, she had to look at her own identity, and find a way to navigate a new system and figure out how to fit in.
Her husband’s next job opportunity took them to West Vancouver, where she became the principal of a prestigious school, and eventually took on a position as a Program Manager for the British Columbia Principal’s and Vice-principal’s Association. Though they loved living in British Columbia, the Yukon was calling to the couple – both of them had a great opportunity to play an important role in making a difference in the community there, so Christie and her husband relocated once again and lived there for another six years. Christie took on a role as the Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Superintendent in the Yukon Government’s Department of Education.
Throughout the years she has made a positive impact on many lives through the various positions she has held, ranging from being a teacher, counselor, district program consultant, school administrator and district administrator. She has had a lot of experience in the classroom, with a considerable amount spent teaching leaders how to be leaders, as Christie believes that it is absolutely critical to have strong leadership in every organization. Her experiences as an educator over the years have been rewarding and fulfilling, and she has learned a lot along the way.
There is a recurring theme in Christie’s story – humility, compassion, and empathy. These seem to be her personal principles, her driving forces, which reflect exactly what the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education stands for in Vancouver. It is clear how Christie’s experiences have led her to the position she holds today at the Dalai Lama Center. Her passions and expertise lay in early childhood development, restorative justice, special education, and leadership.
Today, her position demands 14-hour days, as the organization is growing. The Dalai Lama Center is dedicated to disseminating current research in the area of social/emotional learning, in order to create and develop quality programs and activities and environments that support children, in striving to build better communities.
Apart from making a positive change in society, what matters most to Christie is her family and spending time with them. In her spare time she likes to retreat with her husband to their cottage to decompress, and she enjoys riding with him on their motorcycle. To deal with stress, she likes to read, walk, spend time with friends and exercise. She practices mindfulness and holds the positive attitude that, ‘everything happens for a reason’. Over the years she has realized that not everything has to be done urgently, and all at once.
Christie is truly an inspirational individual, who has made a lasting impact on more than one community. On Thursday, March 6th, at the 4th Annual Bringing Women Together event she will be speaking about heart-mind learning. I am certain that it will be a very powerful speech that you will not forget.
If you haven’t bought your ticket yet, you can do so here.
Tickets are selling out quickly, so get yours today!