People of SFU

Staff Achievement Award winner leads her team to events services excellence

July 20, 2023

“My job is to make sure the audience experience is seamless, fun, easy and enjoyable, and to make SFU look good,” says Justine Crawford, manager, audience and event services for SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts and the recipient of a 2022 Staff Achievement Award for work performance.

The Goldcorp Centre for the Arts is located in downtown Vancouver, consisting of multiple event, performance and presentation spaces and is home to SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts, Woodward’s Cultural Programs, Vancity Office of Community Engagement and the Audain Art Gallery. Goldcorp hosts a multitude of events organized by the complex’s four internal programming areas along with a variety of internal and external events organized by SFU Meeting, Event and Conference Services Vancouver.

Crawford’s attention to detail, dedication to problem-solving and leadership was especially prominent while navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Justine guided us through the pandemic, making sure we were up to date with all the protocols and that they were followed,” says Sheila Pineau, audience and event coordinator and Crawford’s nominator. “She was always there to answer our questions and concerns, or if we just needed to talk about anything work-related or personal during the uncertain times we were all going through.”

“As challenging as COVID was, working through that with the team was memorable because we really had to, as everyone did, pivot and learn new skills,” says Crawford. “Whoever had heard about a disease prevention safety plan in their day-to-day work before? Calculating capacities and ensuring audiences could come in safely – adapting our events for these new procedures was challenging, but it warmed me to see everyone band together to do their best under trying circumstances.”

Crawford says she enjoys working in a dynamic environment, solving problems and making sure the team has ticked all the boxes. “I love when a super complicated task, through collective work through, collaboration and teamwork, gets knocked out of the park.”

Crawford brings more than 20 years’ experience working in live events to her role at SFU. She began her career working with Vancouver Civic theatres, working her way from a bartender to management. “I worked almost every role there, from usher, to supervising the restaurant, to payroll,” Crawford says.

When she felt she had hit a ceiling, she pivoted to a role at Emily Carr University in student services and administration. She enjoyed the university experience and working with students, and when she was referred to SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts by a friend, she felt it was a perfect fit.

“Working here is the perfect mix of the various jobs I’ve done,” says Crawford. “It’s everything from working in both theatre and post-secondary combined into one.”

While Goldcorp puts on many professional productions and events, she also supports students through the logistics of producing their first live arts events. “Being able to support others and to support the institution really motivates me,” she says.

Crawford credits her success to collaboration. “My favourite thing about working here is working with my team.”

“Justine goes over and beyond to make sure her staff are supported, informed and comfortable to know that her door is always open to all,” says Pineau. “She is an incredible leader.”

“I try my best to lift my team up and give them my belief in them,” Crawford says. “I want to leave space for their ideas, invite them to participate and know their voices are valuable. It doesn’t serve the team for me to present my ideas and solutions first, all the time.”

Seeing her team rise to challenges together is the most rewarding part of her job. “There are times when I know it was tricky, when I know there were tons of obstacles,” she says. “But I know we brought our best game as a team. And we nail it.”

Learn more about upcoming productions at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts at SFU's community events calendar.

SFU’s annual Staff Achievement Awards recognize staff members for their achievements and contributions to the university or the community. The awards are a way to showcase some of the great work being done at SFU and in the community by inspired and outstanding staff members. Read about the other award winners.