There's no such thing as Apathy

Dawn Green's love of variety has taken her into a number of different roles: from recreation management to traffic safety education

Dawn Green is chronic overachiever. Whether she is managing recreation programs for municipalities, working to improve driver safety across the province, educating the public on diabetes, or singing with a choir, Dawn is constantly challenging herself. Organization and leadership are in her DNA. Growing up in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan she was active in individual and team sports as well as several local clubs and organizations while keeping her average at the top of her class.

“When I was in junior high and high school I did a bazillion things and I still got really high marks in all my classes,” Dawn says.

She found high school in Saskatchewan wasn’t challenging enough for her. Fortunately her sister, a phys ed and recreation alumna herself, told Dawn about a new program in Edmonton at Old Scona Academic High School. Soon she was living with her sister and doing Grade 12 there. She found the intense focus on academics inspiring and challenged her to do better. Dawn fit in well with the academically demanding school program and, within weeks, was also involved in the student council and organizing intramural activities.

“Out of a class of about 60, almost all went to the university,” she says, “I am one of the very few who only has an undergraduate degree.”

Dawn was the youngest of seven children. Her parents, both medical professionals, expected all their children to attend university. Dawn’s love of recreation, and following the example of her sister, brought her to the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation. While she enjoyed classes and her friends on campus, she attempted to maintain her usual high level of courses and other activities but the stress became too much.

“[Dr.] Elsie McFarland was my advisor. In my first semester I was feeling very stressed. Elsie told me I could drop a class, which I didn’t know was possible. I followed her advice and suddenly I felt better. I could work and handle the classes and have fun.”

Throughout her challenges and successes, the one constant for Dawn has been music. She found that singing with the U of A Mixed Chorus was a great way to meet students from other faculties who shared her love of music. After graduating in 1985, she spent a year travelling and performing with a singing group called Up With People.

“That was, bar none, the best year of my life,” Dawn recalls.

Dawn began working with the City of Edmonton, Parks and Recreation Department (now Community Services) while attending university. After graduating with her BA in Recreation Administration she continued on with the City providing guidance to non-profit groups and community leagues. She worked in this field for 20 years.

Leadership has been the common element in all projects Dawn takes on. She was project manager for the Canadian Diabetes Association, developing a province wide education program on the prevention of Type 2 Diabetes. She worked for three years with the Alberta Motor Association on a comprehensive approach to prevent traffic crashes in the province by educating drivers.

For the last six years, Dawn has worked with the Strathcona County as traffic safety liaison officer. Here she is works to change public perception, to persuade drivers to be more aware of driver safety. Influencing public perception was actually one of the major lessons Dawn learned at the U of A.

“A professor named Leslie Bella told me there’s no such thing as apathy. Just because you think someone should care about your cause doesn’t mean they’re apathetic if they don’t. You can’t make people care about what you want, they have to find what speaks to them.”

Dawn met her husband Gary while at university. Today they both continue to enjoy active lifestyles together with their teenaged daughters, while maintaining individually demanding careers. Over and above that, Dawn has recently been appointed as a marriage commissioner for the Province of Alberta.

For Dawn each day is a new challenge, and challenges are what she looks forward to.