Royal Canadian Mounted Police

International Women's Day

Women inspiring women: Stories of women in leadership

On this page

  1. Sergeant Kelly Willis, National Public Complaints Directorate, National Headquarters and Women's Indigenous Network Chair
  2. Macella Maxwell, Classified Environment Coordinator/Operations Support Supervisor (Public Service Employee)
  3. Trista Georges, Acting Manager, RCMP Indigenous Collaboration, Co-Development and Accountability Unit
  4. Taunya Goguen, Acting Director General, Body Worn Camera and Digital Evidence Management System Project
  5. Jennifer McNeil, Staff Sergeant, British Columbia - Forensic Identification Services

We asked RCMP women leaders—from various intersectional backgrounds, ranks, and classifications—to tell us about the challenges or opportunities they've had in their careers, and their thoughts on RCMP modernization, leadership, and bias. Their contributions help create a more modern, inclusive RCMP for us all!

Sergeant Kelly Willis, National Public Complaints Directorate, National Headquarters and Women's Indigenous Network Chair

Sergeant Kelly Willis, National Public Complaints Directorate, National Headquarters and Women's Indigenous Network Chair
What has been the biggest challenge or opportunity you have encountered in your career?
The best opportunity I experienced was working for the United Nations on a one-year peace keeping mission in Mali, Africa from January 2019 to 2020. If it wasn't for the wording of "Women are strongly encouraged to apply" in the staffing action, I would not have necessarily applied thinking it was part of the "old boys club" or based on who you knew. I ended up being selected as one of the first two members deployed to start up the Canadian Contingent. We had to pave the way for other incoming Canadian police officers and we did so thanks to the friendships we developed with the over 50 countries that were represented. I grew so much during that one year both personally and professionally, it was life changing. This United Nations mission was the perfect blend of my love for travel, adventure, meeting new people, and helping each other navigate barriers.
Thinking about RCMP modernization, what initiative do you feel has or will have the most impact for you?
As a Cree woman in this organization I felt there was a need to form a sisterhood for other Indigenous women and Two-Spirit employees where together we could identify and address issues related to our recruitment, retention, promotion and development. In March 2021, I started the Women's Indigenous Network (WIN) which has grown to a membership of over 100, a similar number among our Women's Indigenous Network allies, and recently extended to other government Indigenous networks. We are a key stakeholder who offer a Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus) and reconciliation-based lens to changes in policy, procedures and initiatives. The Women's Indigenous Network Update, our monthly report that highlights our advancements, is distributed to the Women's Indigenous Network and Women's Indigenous Network allies. I love that the Women's Indigenous Network shines and ignites the light on our amazing Indigenous women and Two-Spirit employees who are modernizing our organization.
In one word, describe your leadership style.
"Inclusive." I believe in including others in their development through information sharing and work exposure.
What does the idea of "breaking biases" mean to you?
Breaking biases for me means that we can be proud of and celebrate our differences. It also means that we are open-minded and willing to make change happen that provides others an opportunity to shine, to develop, to demonstrate their skillsets and to assist in mending bridges within and with the communities we serve. Breaking biases means fair, equitable and inclusive opportunities.

Macella Maxwell, Classified Environment Coordinator/Operations Support Supervisor (Public Service Employee)

Macella Maxwell, Classified Environment Coordinator/Operations Support Supervisor (Public Service Employee)
What has been the biggest challenge or opportunity you have encountered in your career?
My biggest challenge has been trying to stay motivated in a position that has no promotional opportunity. Promotional opportunities for Public Service Employees within the RCMP are few and far between. In a largely women -prominent category of employees this can be very disheartening.
Thinking about RCMP modernization, what initiative do you feel has or will have the most impact for you?
The initiative that will have the most impact for me is the Vision 150 Equity Accountability and Trust action plan. As an African-Canadian woman it is very important for me to see the RCMP move forward in creating an equitable and accountable agency. I am hoping that the agency will follow through on this plan in a meaningful and fulsome manner as we are behind other agencies and private organizations in addressing the inequities in our workforce. I would like to be able to speak proudly of my agency and its move towards an equitable and accountable workplace rather than be embarrassed by our lack of action.
In one word, describe your leadership style.
"Mentorship."
What does the idea of "breaking biases" mean to you?
#BreakTheBias means to break the biased way of thinking that women are not capable of being in roles/positions that require directness and mental strength. It means to be able to be our "authentic" selves as women and not be seen as weak.

Trista Georges, Acting Manager, RCMP Indigenous Collaboration, Co-Development and Accountability Unit

Trista Georges, Acting Manager, RCMP Indigenous Collaboration, Co-Development and Accountability Unit
What has been the biggest challenge or opportunity you have encountered in your career?
The biggest challenge I have encountered as an English-speaking public servant is the official language requirements of certain job categories. I have found that this has deeply impacted my career progression in the National Capital Region. I believe that employees should be able to apply to any job competition regardless of the language requirements. Reduced barriers will attract more talent and hiring managers would have access to highly skilled people, rather than limiting based on language requirements. Candidates should have equal opportunities and access to all Government of Canada jobs and language training. Once they have gone through the application process and have been fully identified as the selected candidate, then the hiring managers could offer employees options to meet language requirements. I think it is contradictory in a way to promote fair and equitable hiring practices when the same policies induce bias and barriers for some demographics. I think we can do a better job of being fair and equitable to all employees while still respecting the legislation of the Official Language Act.
Thinking about RCMP modernization, what initiative do you feel has or will have the most impact for you?
As a First Nation/Metis employee, the best result of the RCMP's Vision 150 and modernization initiatives is the development of the Women's Indigenous Network and the establishment of the RCMP Indigenous Collaboration Co-development office. These critical mechanisms of change develop safe places for racialized employees—improving inclusive workplaces and promoting the RCMP's obligations to reconciliation and to the communities we serve. Systems thinking and change management requires all of us to become mini entrepreneurs. Meaning, we have to become agile and more connected to our people and communities. Change becomes more organic and less hierarchical, promoting longevity and sustainability. I think the biggest challenge of change is to look within ourselves and reflect on how we can be better or contribute to a better future. It is a historical and inspirational time for the RCMP, and I am proud to be part of this growth.
In one word, describe your leadership style.
"Transformational."
What does the idea of "breaking biases" mean to you?
My interpretation of #BreakTheBias is to embrace anti-racism and to educate myself, reflecting on my own biases and how I can think more expansively beyond my reality. Part of it is acknowledging that we all naturally have biases and it takes work to address them. It should be a collective exercise because the only way through this is together, embracing heathy and meaningful dialogue ensures well rounded solutions for our world.

Taunya Goguen, Acting Director General, Body Worn Camera and Digital Evidence Management System Project

Taunya Goguen, Acting Director General, Body Worn Camera and Digital Evidence Management System Project
What has been the biggest challenge or opportunity you have encountered in your career?
"I have been fortunate to have a number of opportunities during my career, including several that have pushed me out of my comfort zone. In these circumstances, I have learned to rely on the expertise of my team and to trust my judgement. These are the opportunities that have allowed me to learn the most."
Thinking about RCMP modernization, what initiative do you feel has or will have the most impact for you?
"Initiatives aimed at enhancing public trust in the RCMP are critical. Without public trust in police, the system fails. Although only one of several initiatives aimed at improving transparency and accountability with the public, I do think the body-worn cameras/digital evidence management system initiative will bring value to communities and RCMP members, as well as improve relationships. Through a Gender-based Analysis Plus approach, we have been consulting diverse groups of people to help ensure we meet these goals. It's also an opportunity to modernize disclosure practices and could positively impact the broader criminal justice system."
In one word, describe your leadership style.
"Collaborative."
What does the idea of "breaking biases" mean to you?
"For me, breaking the bias is about listening to others and self-reflection. We've all had different experiences and we need to learn from the experiences of others to make more informed decisions."

Jennifer McNeil, Staff Sergeant, British Columbia - Forensic Identification Services

Jennifer McNeil, Staff Sergeant, British Columbia - Forensic Identification Services
What has been the biggest challenge or opportunity you have encountered in your career?
"One of the biggest challenges in my career has been self-doubt. I joined very young. There were times early on and after my first promotion when I felt uncomfortable and undeserving. I grew into it as I matured and became more comfortable in my position. That comes with age and job comfort."
"My biggest opportunity was in my last general duty posting. My supervisors asked about me and my interests and goals. They told me what they wanted to see from me and that they would help me. I rose to the occasion and, as I did, they gave me more challenges. I really appreciated the trust and felt very much a valued part of their team. This helped me gain confidence and from there I went into a specialized unit knowing I would succeed."
Thinking about RCMP modernization, what initiative do you feel has or will have the most impact for you?
"Supporting modern policing has the most day-to-day impact on me in my workplace, mainly modernizing the uniform and how members representing the RCMP now have a bit more leeway to express themselves. Just in uniform and boot comfort alone we have come leaps in the last few years."
"The initiative closest to my heart is advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. As a second generation residential school survivor, being a police woman and an Indigenous person has often been a strange place to be in regards to some of the RCMP history with Indigenous peoples. Moves toward reconciliation can only be positive in my opinion."
In one word, describe your leadership style.
"Collaborative."
What does the idea of "breaking biases" mean to you?
"To me it means working toward a more inclusive, accepting, and open society where we see people more on their own particular merit and strengths and less on external features that are out of our control."
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