For her far-reaching work as a public affair’s officer, LCdr. Kelly Williamson has been named one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women for 2017 by the Women’s Executive Network.
Williamson, a senior public affairs officer with the 5th Canadian Division, claimed a spot in the BMO Arts and Communications category to be named one of Canada’s most powerful women.
She was nominated by her superior officers who recognized the outdistancing work she’s done in her more than 20-year career with the Canadian Armed Forces.
“For me, it was incredibly humbling, and I am forever grateful to those people who did nominate me,” said Williamson.
Williamson began her noteworthy career in the CAF as a Royal Military College student in her late teens.
“I actually joined the military because I love my country and I wanted a way to sort of give back and to also demonstrate my commitment to Canada,” recalled Williamson.
After graduating from the RMC, Williamson began her naval career as a maritime surface warfare officer. She gained invaluable experience in this position, but her true passion lay in communications, a passion driven by her aunt, her role model, who had also worked as a public affairs officer. So when a fork in the road presented itself, Williamson decided to jump ship and try out a new career in the military.
“It’s been a whole new set of adventures ever since then,” stated Williamson.
Not long after making the switch, Williamson was deployed with the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.
“It was pretty formative. I got dropped off in the middle of the night with the rest of Canada’s DART. It’s where I think I developed my resiliency and my ability to think outside the box and get the job done in a very austere condition,” recalled Williamson.
Since then, Williamson has also deployed to Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, and Cote d’Ivoire.
In 2015, she deployed again with DART to Nepal, this time as a senior public affairs officer.
“It was an incredible experience. The people of Nepal are incredibly resilient, and that deployment was just so spiritually rewarding,” noted Williamson.
In July of this year, Williamson was posted to the 5th Canadian Division. Here she works alongside the commander to help connect everyday citizens of Atlantic Canada with the Army.
On Nov. 23, the 2017 Canada’s Most Powerful Women Top 100 Leadership Summit was held in Toronto where Williamson, along with her fellow recipients of this year’s honour, were recognized. The Leadership Summit touched on topics such gender diversity in organizations and how to be successful in business.
“It was great being in a room with so many other outstanding leaders,” said Williamson.
In the evening a gala was held where each of the 100 women was individually honoured. The gala was emceed by TV personality and entrepreneur Arlene Dickinson, who happens to be an honorary naval captain.
For Williamson, it was an inspiration to be in a positive environment with women, something she learned was very important after working for VAdm. (ret’d) Nora Tyson, an American admiral, in 2016.
“Just having that female role model was just so important because I never really thought that I could aspire to that rank.
“I think we all do our best, but when you actually see someone you can identify with, it makes all the difference. I’m a huge believer in female role models,” noted Williamson.
To Williamson, becoming the recipient of such a distinguished honour proves to the young women and men of the CAF that the possibilities are endless.
“As long as you put in hard work and are good teammates, great things will happen,” said Williamson.