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Liz Kidd wasn’t long into her role as vice-president, corporate services with College of the North Atlantic (CNA) when the president’s job became available, and she had no interest in it.
Bob Gardiner, then assistant deputy minister (post-secondary education) for the Department of Advanced Education and Skills, was assigned the role of interim president and chief executive officer while a search for a new president took place. When Gardiner was promoted to deputy minister of education a few months later, he asked Kidd to take over the interim role.
“I had said I would only do it on the interim, because I hadn’t even been with the organization six months. So, I had no interest at that point in applying or anything like that.”
Fast forward to October 2019, the president’s position is finally posted and Kidd decides to put her hat in the ring.
On May 25, Advanced Education, Skills and Labour Minister Chris Mitchelmore announced her appointment to the position, effective June 1, four years to the day she officially made the move here.
Congratulations to Liz Kidd on being appointed President & CEO effective June 1. Thank you to Bruce Hollett, who has led the college for the past two years – his third time over his 38-year career. We wish both great success! Read more: https://t.co/3BaSMPz6W8 #MyCNA #nlschools pic.twitter.com/urdC1gySUf— CNA (@CNA_News) May 25, 2020
What changed, was a combination of things, says Kidd.
“When I was interim we had only been here for six months," noting that, at the that time, her family remained unsure about the move to Newfoundland.
“It’s been four years exactly that we’ve been here … and we love it.”
She also got to know more about the college, the players and the province.
“And it really set me up from that perspective to be able to say, ‘OK you know what? I’m ready to lead.’”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kidd says there’s been a whole new appreciation for the jobs that make up the team at the college and elsewhere.
“Everybody is frontline now,” she says.
While leading during a global health scare was certainly not in her plans, she says the pandemic hasn’t changed what the college does.
“It’s just the modality on how we educate students and what this looks like.”
This past weekend she was set to record a video graduation commencement speech. It’s the first time she’s ever had to do that.
“It feels kind of weird to be honest with you, if feels kind of cold at the same time, but we’re in a new world, so this is how we’re going to do it.”
1. What is your full name?
Elizabeth (she prefers Liz) Ann Kidd — only my mother called me Elizabeth when she was mad.
2. Where and when were you born?
I was born in Montreal, 1969.
3. Where do you live today?
I live in Stephenville.
4. What’s your favourite place in the world?
I love to travel. Every place to me is an experience, and I think the best place to say my favourite place in the world is home. And that’s wherever home is. So, when I get off an airplane from travelling to Europe or from the Middle East and I arrive in Deer Lake, and I smell the fresh air and I feel the cool wind, I know I’m home.
5. Who do you follow on social media?
I have lots of friends. Obviously, I have the standard list of politicians and colleagues. But I think the most fascinating person I find on social media is Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla. He’s controversial to a certain extent … but it’s his whole philosophy around changing the world, helping humanity. He seems to be quite the visionary. So, it will be very interesting to see where we end up in 10 years’ time, and how much he is predicting actually ends up happening.
Dragon Dawn pic.twitter.com/mz1EzU5GSO— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 26, 2020
6. What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I love to cook. But it’s not just about cooking for me. It’s about sourcing food, it’s about buying local, it’s about buying some of the best ingredients. Most of the food that’s on my table is local. I buy everything local, from my eggs to my meat, my vegetables, and I pressure can and prepare.
7. What’s been your favourite year and why?
I actually don’t have a favourite year. Life is about experiences and I think we’re meant to live. There’s that age-old adage that people say we only live once. Well, that’s actually wrong. We only die once. We live every day. I sort of want to live every year to be one of the best years.
8. What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
I would say losing my mom. I lost my mom last year and sitting by her side for about six weeks was probably the hardest thing ever.
9. Can you describe one experience that changed your life?
I’m going to go back to (losing my mom). You sort of re-evaluate what you do when you’re sitting there watching somebody or spending time with somebody who’s passing on. And you know when we get so caught up in life ... we sort of forget what actually means something at the end of the day. I think learning from that experience with her was how she valued family, how the smell of coffee meant something to her at that point. So, really looking at things in a much simpler way, and simple pleasures.
10. What’s your greatest indulgence?
Red wine. A definite favourite.
11. What is your favourite movie or book?
My favourite book would be “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” Julia Childs and it’s the original, it’s the first edition and it was passed down to me by my mom.
12. How do you like to relax?
Cooking is one of them, but actually I love to run. You know, I’m not fast, but I love to run and that’s really where my brain is able to turn off and I’m just able to do something that’s just for me. I did a half marathon last year and, unfortunately, everything has been cancelled this year due to COVID, but I’m planning on a virtual half marathon in August.
13. What are you reading or watching right now?
OK, so, I’m kind of embarrassed. You know, sometimes a gal just needs some mindless, scandalous entertainment in her life and I’m watching “Dynasty.” It’s mindless and I think that’s the part that, sort of where I’m at, I need some mindless stuff. It’s something that is so unreal it’s not even funny.
14. What is your greatest fear?
Heights. Terrified of heights. Good in an airplane, terrible on an open bridge.
15. If you were singing karaoke what would be your song?
“Here Comes the Sun,” by the Beatles. It’s on my running mix.
16. What is your most treasured possession?
I’m a minimalist, so, I actually don’t believe in possessions. If you’re asking what I treasure the most, then I would say I treasure my family and the people I love most.
17. What physical or personality trait are you most grateful to a parent for?
My mother was a strong woman, you might think stubborn. She comes from a strong line of women. My strengths and my independence come from my mom.
18. What three people would join you for your dream dinner party?
Julia Childs, I think she is absolutely fascinating. She was a spy, she was one of the first women to go to Cordon Bleu. She was eccentric, she was unusual, and she never stopped, and she loved butter until she died at 91. Margaret Thatcher, the iron lady who was loved and hated. She actually said that you don’t follow the crowd, you make up your own mind. It’s something that I pretty much have lived my life by. And then, the third one, who’s slightly controversial would be Catherine the Great. Think about this she was empress of the Russian Empire in the mid 1700s. She basically dethroned her husband, Peter the Third. She modernized Russia. She opened the very first state funded school for girls in the 1700s. She was before her time.
19. What is your best quality, and what is your worst quality?
My passion and enthusiasm, whether it’s for work, whether it’s for life, whether it’s for everything. From a worst it’s probably the fact that I’m sort of a perfectionist. And can be a little bit stubborn, which I think is the French Canadian in me, which I get from my mom. But that’s mellowing with age.
20. If you didn’t take this career path, what would have chosen?
I probably would have become a phys-ed teacher. I chose administrative instead of actually going into the teaching profession and I love to teach. I would love to teach.
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