Hayley Picard has spent her life working hard to embody a strong set of values, living as honestly and authentically as she can. But closest to her heart has always been offering service to others.
“Volunteerism is something that’s really important to me,” she says, explaining it’s critical in creating empathy and giving perspective into other lived experiences, and that commitment to giving of herself has woven through her personal and professional lives for decades.
Hayley is the director of communications and marketing for Queen Margaret’s School in Duncan. She has been with the school for nearly 13 years, and had an interesting start to her QMS career in January of 2010.
“I had already been given a spot as a volunteer in the [Vancouver] Winter Olympics,” she says. “But the school believes in service to others, so when I took the job, I explained the situation and I worked for two weeks before I left to stay with my sister-in-law in Pemberton for two weeks. It really set the tone for my time with QMS. For service to others and giving back, you have to live it in order to share it with the kids.”
Hayley, who’s also volunteered with the Commonwealth Games, coaches her daughter’s school field hockey team and definitely serves as an example.
“I’m working full time, but I’m still doing the extras, and it’s important for the kids to see that, and for my kids to understand that the extra effort really goes a long way in creating a community.”
Coming from a background that ranges from radio broadcasting to hospitality and event management, Hayley went back to school for her degree in communications with a minor in publishing from Simon Fraser University, and came into QMS as its communications coordinator, tasked with creating a recognizable and inspiring brand for the school.
“We had no social media presence. It was a completely clean slate,” Hayley explains. “Through the years it’s been a gradual build, and we’re in a really good place now.”
She’s also helped the school to build and nurture relationships with local families and organizations.
“I believe in connecting with our community. We want to be part of it. To connect with our local families and our local service organizations. QMS really believes in being courageous, being authentic, being ourselves and being kind. That’s when I feel like we’re at our best, when we’re living those values,” she says.
Having spent years in the Lower Mainland, Hayley and her husband moved back to the Cowichan Valley in 2007, keen to re-establish a strong family support system.
“I was born and raised here, and it was important for us to come back to the community,” she says. “It was the best decision we ever made as a family.”
The 7 Sins
Whose shoes would you like to walk in?
As many people’s shoes as possible. Empathy and understanding are built through perspective, and something I always strive towards is to treat people with kindness, even when I may not understand their situation. For our society to have positive interactions, free of defensiveness, fear or stigma, it’s critical that we each take a breath and provide each other a little grace.
What is the food you could eat over and over again?
Mashed potatoes—thick, creamy (but not whipped!), riddled with butter, garlic, salt and pepper, and some cream cheese in there.
You’re given $1 million that you have to spend selfishly. What would you spend it on?
I would take time off from work and go on trips with my family around the world. I am passionate about my children seeing that their lovely lives here in the Cowichan Valley aren’t the way everyone lives. The world is rich with cultures, languages, beliefs, colours, smells and flavours, all there to be explored, experienced and appreciated first hand.
Hate speech. I believe in fair, honest and open debate on contentious issues, but not messages where people are belittled, attacked or made to feel badly about themselves simply because of a difference of opinion.
Where would you spend a long time doing nothing?
French Beach and Tofino. I find the west coast of our beautiful island so restful and restorative. My stress melts away and I return a much happier person after a stay there.
What is the one thing you’re secretly proud of?
After 13 years building the communications department at Queen Margaret’s School, I am extremely proud of where we are today. My team’s work has assisted the school in building its market presence through multiple mediums, especially in the digital realm. I love it when parents, students or staff reach out saying how much they enjoy following us on Instagram, or how they enjoyed the most recent Connections Magazine. It provides me with immense joy.
What makes your heart beat faster?
Beauty. Whether in nature (sunsets in Tofino or hiking Mount Tzouhalem), within a human interaction (a kind word with someone having a rough day), in art (paintings, photography or movies), or in the incredible diversity of our human and animal kingdom…beauty surrounds us everywhere. When I take a moment to recognize and appreciate it, my heart speeds up a little.