International Women's Day: Celebrating the strong women in my life

March 08, 2021

Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. In celebration of this important day, I wanted to make a special mention of the important women in my life. Of course, I start and end with my partner Preet Heer. My daughter-in-law Jasmine Kim, mother to my grandson Mr. Wilson, is pretty special too.

Steve and Preet
Steve's daughter-in-law Jasmine with grandson Wilson

But I do want to note that I have been very privileged through my entire work life to be led by very special women. When I worked at the Addiction Research Foundation in Ontario, it was the amazing Karen Goldenberg. As a faculty member and special adviser to the VP Academic at KPU, it was Judith McGillivray and Diane Purvey. And, of course, for the last 7 plus years at SFU, I have had Joanne Curry in my corner. More recently, I am thrilled that the amazing dynamic duo of President Joy Johnson and Chancellor Tamara Vrooman are at the helm of SFU. All of these women have taught me so much and I feel so fortunate that I was supported through their mentorship. 

That said, I do want to say a few words about my mother, Doreen Dooley. My mother had nine children, three of whom she lost in heartbreaking circumstances (her oldest son, David, drowned at the age of six). She never really got over these losses and left us far too soon at the age of 65 in 1994 after suffering through a 30-year battle with depression.

My mom was the best: smart and an accomplished bridge player. She also had so much time to listen to her young Stephen (she hated when people called me Steve), even as she suffered. She had a massive heart and I wonder what her fate might have been had she been a young adult today. In her time the role of women was very prescribed; she was put in a corner, a place in society which only served to exacerbate the impact of depression.

To the extent that I lead from the heart, care for others, and try really hard to listen, it is because of my mother – an amazing woman. 

My hope is that we all make a commitment to stand up for women even after International Women’s Day is over. Especially in these times where social connection may feel like it’s lacking, I encourage you to reach out and uplift the women in your life. There is always more we can do to encourage one another and advance women’s equality in all areas of society.

Steve with President Joy Johnson at a City of Surrey Orange Shirt Day event
Steve with Joanne Curry at the 2021 President's Virtual Surrey Gala
Steve with his daughter-in-law, Jasmine
Steve and Preet

Beyond the blog: SFU is hosting a number of events today to celebrate International Women's Day, and has also put together a list of groups and resources to learn something new and stay connected. Check it out