What do you think of when you think of nuclear energy?
Interim president and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA), Heather is striving to create a more positive environment for nuclear energy, educating the masses on the many positives of the power source while helping to advance the industry.
“I’m a big believer in nuclear energy, because it’s good for the environment and it’s good for the economy. We supply much needed power while minimizing the release of greenhouse gases. And our industry provides thousands of highly skilled, well paying and rewarding jobs while doing it. Basically, it’s good for Canadians,” Heather says.
With a background in environmental science, Heather has a great deal of experience working in what she calls “responsible resource development.” After several years of working in the mining and logging industries, Heather was offered the role of environmental scientist with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and found her niche. Ten years later, she is serving as the interim president and CEO.
A female CEO in a scientific association might seem like an oddity to an outside spectator, but Heather sees it as an example of the way things are moving in this field.
“I think that the fact that our Board of Directors asked me to assume the interim president and CEO role speaks volumes about our industry. There is definitely a growing number of women in senior roles throughout our industry,” she says.
A firm believer in the nuclear industry, Heather would like to see the number grow and encourages other women to consider the field.
“It currently provides over 30,000 interesting, challenging and rewarding jobs for Canadians.”
As part of her job, Heather works to combat the negative images of nuclear energy and has participated in a number of regulatory hearings. When asked, however, about what stands out as memorable about these hearings, she chooses not to dwell on “the antics of the very passionate non-governmental organizations,” who tend to have a very vocal presence. Instead, she highlights the actions of Port Hope Mayor Linda Thompson.
“Mayor Thompson spoke thoughtfully to the benefits the nuclear industry would bring to her community and the families that live there,” Heather says.
This resolve, to highlight the positive elements of her field while refusing to get bogged down by the negative characters who seek to destroy nuclear power, stands out in Heather’s character. She believes in her industry and wants to raise awareness about the many ways nuclear energy can improve people’s lives.
“The nuclear industry generates more than just power,” she says. “We produce isotopes that aid in the diagnosis and treatment of many forms of Cancer. In fact, Canada provides between 20-30% of the world’s supply of isotopes.”
This alternate purpose of nuclear technology is important to note, given the rising rates of cancer. As a testament to this link, the CNA is partnering with the Canadian Cancer Society and raising funds for research. Watch for the Relay for Life in Ottawa on June 7, hosted by the CNA.