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Patti McCleister Memorial Award Recipient Has Seen Grand Erie Through Unprecedented Challenges

It’s been a year like no other, full of challenges, changes, and uncertainty. But Lena Latreille, this year’s recipient of the Patti McCleister Memorial Award, rose to the challenge and led the way for Grand Erie. 

Lena-thumb.jpg“The board is truly grateful to Lena for going above and beyond during the pandemic and showing tremendous patience, compassion and a consistent willingness to help,” said JoAnna Roberto, Director of Education. “Her leadership was exemplary as she worked as an outstanding board ambassador with officials at all levels of government, local public health units, and Grand Erie staff and families. She has had such a positive impact on our community and this is just one way we can show our great appreciation for her marvelous work and dedication.” 

“The leadership required to transition a system in a pandemic is immense, and Lena has demonstrated, through her dedication to her role and the system, that she elevated her leadership to better Grand Erie,” said Domenic Maniccia, Manager of Facility Services in Grand Erie, who nominated his colleague for the award. “Her management, dedication, reliability, and efforts have far exceeded the expectations for the role. She’s provided endless energy and time this past year for the betterment of our entire community.” 

As the Division Manager of Operations, Health and Safety for the Board, Latreille’s role – like many things this year – had to pivot as the COVID-19 pandemic transformed the way we work and learn. A key part of the planning, implementation and management of Grand Erie’s pandemic response, her wide-ranging duties have included liaising with public health experts to gather information; summarizing and recommending measures and protocols to senior administration; working with school communities and support centres to implement health and safety measures; ensuring supplies of personal protective equipment; and providing crucial communications to stakeholders. 

“Lena has shown incredible perseverance, patience, expertise, and reliability in all facets of her role, which were evident in her interaction with all levels of staff across the organization,” said Rafal Wyszynski, Superintendent of Business and Treasurer in Grand Erie, overseeing the Facility Services portfolio. “Whether it was helping parents understand self-isolation, guiding our school principals through outbreak procedures, supporting senior team in operationalizing re-opening guides or simply coordinating all the PPE and PPE protocols for Grand Erie, Lena understands the importance or her role and how it positively impacts our staff and students.” 

While the rapid changes and new challenges brought on the pandemic have resulted in heightened fear and anxiety for many, Latreille has risen to the occasion, providing an ear to listen and an action-oriented, can-do response to solve problems. Her work days weren’t over until she’d responded to each and every question or concern that came her way. 

“Ensuring staff and students feel safe is one of the most critical aspects of leading in education,” said Maniccia. “Lena has continued to maintain her calm, professional demeanor to ensure that people feel reassured throughout this unprecedented period in this Board’s history.” 

The Patti McCleister Memorial Award is given annually to a Grand Erie employee who exemplifies outstanding leadership, inspires others, and is a driving force in realizing the board’s strategic goals and vision of Success for Every Student. 

Patti McCleister was Grand Erie’s Training and Development Officer, a valuable team member and an inspiration to so many. She passed away in 2013 from cancer. The award given in her memory is the highest honour bestowed to a Grand Erie employee, and embodies McCleister’s legacy of passion, creativity and commitment to leadership. 

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