Theresa grew up as one of six children from an Irish Catholic family in Hamilton and went on to earn a B.A. in Fine Arts at the University of Guelph. She joined Canada World Youth and was sent to Sri Lanka. From there she travelled on her own to Nepal, India, Italy and England, all at the age of 20.
By 1982, Theresa married, began her family, and was living in Ottawa. She learned to get involved in the community and take care of her family in a holistic way.
After taking a media course at Algonquin College, Theresa volunteered at Carleton Radio CKCU and created a children’s show: “The Children’s Half-Hour”. It was a hit, and lasted three years, with Theresa as the host and featured Canadian music from Raffi, Fred Penner and many others.
“I wanted to do more to make the future better for children, to do something to benefit the community.”
In 1987, Theresa decided to get involved in the New Democratic Party in Ottawa West, and in 1988 won the nomination to be a federal candidate. She credits the experience of running for election with sparking her commitment to public service. Theresa went on to work on Parliament Hill, working with MPs from all parties for almost 30 years.
In 2010, Theresa ran for school board trustee in Bay Ward (Zone 4) on the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, and was elected. She was re-elected in 2014 and, during her eight years on the Board, worked closely with families on the organization of school programs. She has served as Chair of the Board’s Budget and Audit Committees.
“School Boards are required to provide services within balanced budgets.”
“My motivation is to do the right thing for our students. I want to take that philosophy to City Hall.”
One of the accomplishments Theresa is proud of at the OCDSB was her work with parents to save Regina Street Public School from closing.
“Regina was a small school that was slated for closure. However, working with parents and Board staff, we were able to make changes that led to a very successful program being established at Regina: it’s now a full school.”
Running in elections isn’t the only ‘running’ Theresa has done. She is an accomplished amateur athlete and has run in three Boston Marathons.
“At the beginning I wasn’t sure I could run. When I realized I could do it, and it felt great, then I was hooked.”
Theresa regularly commutes to work by bike, for the health benefits and the environment.
“It’s also an economical way to commute. I want to make it easier for more people to do it if they choose. It’s what a livable city means to me – practical options.”