About Jan

I'm a community leader with decades of experience and a reputation for getting the job done. 

Growing up, I was fortunate to be closely connected to my large extended family, which meant I could learn from all four of my grandparents. As the eldest of three children, I’ve always tried to take care of everybody around me – learning early about a sense of responsibility. The togetherness of family kept me and my siblings out of trouble. Money was tight and I still remember the time I got a sweater of my own that wasn’t a hand-me-down. I would have been about 14. 

My parents worked hard to make ends meet. I have early memories of being packed up in the car with my sister at 5am so Mom could pick Dad up from the night shift at Canada Packers. Mom and Dad moonlighted as property managers in the apartment buildings we lived in. When they were saving up for a house, Mom worked nights at a bank while Dad expanded his moonlighting to work two jobs to save up for a down payment on their first home. My parents qualified for a mortgage on their first home by only a few dollars.

As a family we experienced both the comforts of success and the devastation of job loss. I know, just as many Calgarians do, how hard recovery can be when your future feels outside of your control. In many ways, this struggle has made me the determined woman I am today, allowing me to push through the times in my career when I have been told I couldn’t do what I set out to (because of my gender or my age or my unique perspective) and to realize there is much joy and learning in the struggle.

I was the first in my extended family to attend University. I trained as an economist at the U of A where I received my undergraduate degree and at UBC for my Masters; I followed my studies with a stint as a sessional lecturer in Economics at the U of A and as an Analyst at the Alberta Department of Energy learning the intersection of public consultation and policy that led to the Clean Air Strategy for Alberta. All of this early work helped solidify my Economics training – understanding that when we create the right environment for people to thrive, they do. 

I think of Calgary as my ‘adult home’. While born and raised in Edmonton, I had always been attracted to Calgary – its energy, vibrancy, and proximity to the mountains. Moving here as an energy economist was a natural step. At 25, the 1988 Olympics put Calgary on a global stage and the volunteer spirit reinforced that this was the City for me. I inherited a fierce competitive spirit and love of sport from the rest of my family – I played volleyball, softball, basketball and danced competitively until a knee injury took me out of competition permanently at age 18. 

I spent a decade working in progressively more senior roles at TransCanada Pipelines, culminating in my work as President of TransCanada’s Hot Taps Ltd. The work I did often focused on transformation, restructuring and finding creative new ways to generate revenue. Reflecting on my early career, I have always been good at simplifying, finding better ways to save time and money. I understand the importance of efficiency, accountability and transparency. I am curious to my very core – and I happily lean in to solve complex problems.

I turned a volunteer gig into formal work in creating community good by moving to the United Way of Calgary at the turn of the millennium. Following this, travel to East Africa led me to my work as a director and organizer for the Aga Khan University, one of the world’s foremost promoters of human welfare. In this role, I travelled to Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the UK and UAE. This had a profound impact on me, cementing the importance of access to education for all while affirming that I have a role to play in creating the change I want to see in the world.

Most recently, I have been privileged to serve as VP, External Relations and Engagement at YW Calgary, leading a team to deliver the human resources, marketing & communications, government relations, fundraising and social enterprise sides of one of Calgary’s social agencies. I was part of the executive team that delivered on the $60 million project that built the YW Hub facility to support women and allow their families to thrive. I am proud that this project was delivered on time and under budget with no debt. 

I am currently a Mentor with the Venture Mentoring Service of Alberta and have long led on Boards in the community including the World Bank, Rotary Club, the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation and Decidedly Jazz Danceworks. 

It wasn’t until my second marriage that I found my amazing and supportive husband Paul Griss. I am stepmom to Paul’s two sons, Graeme (24) and Colin (21). I entered the boys’ lives when they were 11 and 8. Padre, our chocolate lab, completes the family. 

I have come into my own over the course of this journey – personally and professionally. Early on in my career I felt like I should know all of the answers. I now know that the most effective way to lead is to ask questions, enable others, push for insights, and remove barriers to ensure that people realise their full potential. This is the leadership I will provide as Mayor and this is the leadership that Calgary needs – bringing people together to find solutions to the complex problems that our City faces. It's time for a fresh perspective. Thanks to my amazing family and a life of adventures, I am ready.