"I truly believe in Edmonton. This city has the potential to be a place that citizens from all walks of life enthusiastically choose, just as I did years ago, to plant roots and grow — lives, families, careers and businesses — for years to come. I believe that my collaborative and optimistic “yes and…” mindset will keep our city moving forward and that momentum will give us the courage and conviction to challenge the status quo. Together, we can make Edmonton a city that works for all of us."
"Collective and sustainable transformation does not happen in isolation… we need to co-create our future."
- Cheryll Watson
I was born to a single mother who left her parents' central Alberta tree farm to come to Edmonton to create a good life for the two of us. A few years later, my Mom met and married my first stepdad, my younger brother was born and we grew up together in the Edmonton community of Beverly.
I was proud that the Principal of my Elementary School was the former Mayor of our City (it’s now named Ivor Dent School). I learned to skate and play baseball at the Floden Community Park and I took swimming lessons at the ACT Centre in Rundle Park.
I took three busses every morning to attend M.E. Lazerte High School. And, I waited tables at Smitty’s so that I could afford Jordache Jeans (I realize this dates me). Needless to say, I’m a proud northside girl at heart.
Both of my stepdads had an impact on my life and their communities through their military service. My first stepdad was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his record number of hours flying dangerous routes over the Himalayas during WWII. My second Stepdad also served our country as a submariner in the Canadian Navy.
My family includes my husband Geoff and our four adult children. Together we actively contribute to causes and issues that have directly impacted our family lives or will in the future including: mental health, education and environmental causes.
My experience and assorted patchwork of opportunities that I’ve picked up along the way has given me a refreshingly unique leadership style. I learned to look out for the little guy (literally) while protecting my brother from bullies.
I learned the importance of structure and discipline through my time as an Air Cadet leadership staffer and drill instructor. I learned many things the hard way at first and that taught me perseverance. I experienced that raising your hand when opportunities arise is the best way to learn.
I learned the importance of leading with a clear vision, building accountable high-performance cultures, and delivering sustainable results for your stakeholders. I learned that having deep customer intimacy and knowledge is critical in serving them well.
Brad Smith was a key mentor for taking my leadership to the next level, building a personal leadership style focused on curiosity, humility, grit and compassion. These are the same principles that will guide me as a city leader in building partnerships, learning from the best, lifting people up and giving you a strong voice.
I built my career around innovation. I bring 20 years of experience in strategic business transformation, tech innovation, and small business enablement in both private and public sectors.
This really began at IBM in the late 1990s. I managed their real estate assets through Y2K (which lasted a much shorter amount of time than the current crisis we are all facing today - COVID19).
After that, tech giant INTUIT recruited me to work collaboratively with many others – including the City – to build a ‘first of its kind in Edmonton’ Silicon Valley tech campus. I went on to be a part of the team leading Intuit’s global expansion working and learning from Eric Ries (Lean Startup) and General Stanley McCrystal (Agile Teams) in applying their practices.
At the end of 15 years with Intuit I was faced with a decision to go to Silicon Valley or stay in Edmonton. I stayed (how could I not?).
I joined the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation and recognizing the need to catalyze our future economy, I founded Innovate Edmonton and co-founded Alberta Innovation Corridor.
I understand how to make new ideas a reality and have experience working closely with the City to make that which may seem impossible happen - quickly.
I am currently a committee member of the Downtown Recovery Task Force, I serve as the Co-Chair, and one of three Canadians, on the Startup Genome Global Senior Policy Maker Forum.
I’m also a mentor in the Threshold Impact Venture Mentor Program And, in the past, it was an honour to serve on the board of the Zebra Child Protection Centre and the Edmonton Arts Council.