The Alumni Board will be profiling alumni Student Trustees in our email updates as well as on our website. You can find a list of profiled alumni on this page. If you are interested in being profiled, then please get in touch! We would love to hear from you.
Alumni Profile: Stephan Telka
I had the pleasure of serving as Student Trustee on the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland & Clarington Catholic District School Board (which I believe is the longest school board name in the province!) from 2000-2001, and was one of the founders of OSTA-AECO in the autumn of 2000, serving as the inaugural President of the English Catholic Board Council. During my time as Student Trustee, I focused on getting students more involved in board affairs. I established a Student Trustee advisory committee, comprised of student council representatives of each secondary school within the board, and made sure my contact information was in every single secondary school classroom across the board. I also spearheaded the creation of a sub-committee on environmental sustainability to look at ways to increase waste diversion, leading to a re-write of board policy.
During my time as Board Council President, I focused on laying the groundwork for an efficient and effective Board Council. I spent many hours reaching out to each and every English Catholic Student Trustee, bringing them together in-person a number of times throughout the year, and ensuring we had a strong voice on Executive Council. One of the most valuable lessons I learned was staying true to my convictions. As OSTA-AECO was getting off the ground, there was intense pressure from Catholic education stakeholders for me to form a separate organization for English Catholic Student Trustees. Our Board Council Cabinet felt that the interests of English Catholic students in Ontario could be best served working together, rather than apart from, our English Public (and at the time, French Public and French Catholic) colleagues.
Off to university
I was awarded a Bachelor of Arts (Honours – Political Studies and History) from Queen’s University in 2005, and after a year working for the university and at an international education centre in Helsinki, Finland, moved to Ottawa. I was awarded a Master of Arts (European, Russian and Eurasian Studies) from Carleton University in 2008, writing my dissertation on the experience of Ukrainian Forced Labourers in Nazi Germany (1939-45) based on archival research in Germany conducted during a year-long exchange. My extra-curricular interests during my undergraduate studies definitely leaned toward the nerdy, and I’m proud of it – Queen’s Model United Nations, Queen’s International Affairs Association, and our central student government, the Alma Mater Society.
From engaging students to engaging citizens
After working at the British High Commission (Ottawa) on various files related to climate change, and the Canadian Bureau for International Education on the Libya-Canada Exchange Programme, I joined Ascentum, Inc. as Consultant in December 2009. Ottawa-based Ascentum is Canada’s leading public participation and engagement firm, specializing in helping its clients engage their stakeholders and Canadians at large in the most pressing public policy decisions of the day. In 2012 Ascentum was acquired by Hill + Knowlton Strategies, one of the leading government relations (“public affairs”) and public relations agencies in Canada, and part of the world’s largest communications company. I was promoted to Senior Consultant in 2014, and for the past two years, have been working on engaging Canadians in a major oil and gas infrastructure project. The work I do today is grounded in my term as Student Trustee, as I continue to focus on getting people involved in issues that matter to them.
Looking back on my time with OSTA-AECO, I’m extremely proud of the work the founding Executive Council did on establishing an organization that continues to be strong and credible voice for public education in Ontario.
Feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with me on LinkedIn.
This is part of a series of alumni profiles. If you would like to be profiled by the Alumni Board, please email us!