Challenges, opportunities ahead for Windsor's first female police chief

Female leaders in Windsor are encouraged to have a woman in the top role for Windsor Police Services.

'Having that gender lens at the table is going to be key'

Windsor mayor Drew Dilkens officially named Pam Mizuno as Windsor's chief of police Friday. (Windsor Police Service)

The former chief of the Guelph police force says she understands how Pam Mizuno, Windsor's first female police chief,  might be feeling about her new position.

Lenna Bradburn was the first female police chief in Canada — landing the job the year Mizuno entered policing. 

"I'm thrilled for her," said Bradburn. "I think she'll have a lot of opportunities to do some interesting work with the service and its members."

Windsor mayor, Drew Dilkens announced Friday Pam Mizuno would step into the police chief role after serving as interim chief since June. 

Bradburn says she was also pleased with where the mayor made the announcement — a school assembly where Mizuno's two daughters attend. 

"In the six years [I was chief] I had lots of challenges ... but lots of innovation over the years," said Bradburn. "The engagement of the members of the service was phenomenal and I was very proud of what we were able to do in that time."

Lenna Bradburn was the first female police chief in Canada. (Lenna Bradburn)

While Bradburn acknowledges there will be challenges ahead of Mizuno, she says they don't have a lot to do with her being female.

"When you go into that leadership role you're there to be the leader and it doesn't matter who the leader is," said Bradburn, adding that she's worked with male colleagues who did not want a woman in policing.

"Times have changed. There's women in all areas of policing now," she said.

Bradburn added that women are more likely to be collaborative in solving problems. 

"Engaging, looking for participation from others… they sometimes have a different leadership style," said Bradburn.

"That type of engagement can unleash a lot of energy."

Nour Hachem-Fawaz, president and founder of Build-A-Dream said Windsor has made history in appointing Mizuno as the first female chief.

"We've worked really hard with Windsor police over the last few years to encourage more women into policing," said Hachem-Fawaz. "We often talk about gender diversity in the workforce and moving [women] into leadership roles is crucial to getting more females into those industries."

Nour Hachem-Fawaz, Build-A-Dream founder and president is thrilled Pam Mizuno will step into the police chief role. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Build-A-Dream is an organization that hopes to attract women into male-dominated skilled trades industries.

Hachem-Fawaz said having a female police chief helps reflect the community in a more diverse light, and will encourage women to join not only policing, but other male-dominated industries. 

"I think it's important for us to represent the communities we serve," said Hachem-Fawaz. "Having that gender lens at the table is going to be key to coming up with different solutions that can support communities."

Same challenges all leaders face

Janice Kaffer, president and CEO of Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, said it will likely take Mizuno some time to "figure herself out in this new role."

"I think the new chief is going to face some challenges that we all face as leaders," Kaffer said. "Whenever you go into a new organization or an organization where the chief has actually been a member of the leadership team for sometime, one of the first challenges is really differentiating yourself."

Kaffer said the first rule of leadership is inspiring others to follow a vision.

Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare president and CEO Janice Kaffer says new police chief, Pam Mizuno should take as much time as she needs to understand the issues concerning the force. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

"I've had the opportunity to work with the new chief on a number of opportunities a number of times, and I found her to be very open and engaging," said Kaffer.

According to Kaffer, Mizuno should take as much time as she needs to fully understand the issues that are coming and what it is the people that follow you are looking for.

"I think she has an opportunity to really make her mark, and I know that there's a whole community of us that will help her in any way, shape or form to do that," Kaffer said. 


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