DRYDEN - Trudy Sachowski is an executive member of Northwestern Health Unit’s Board of Health and has also been newly elected as The Association of Local Public Health Agencies president.
“I am really overwhelmed. My board of health passed the unanimous resolution to put my name forward. I just can’t believe it. It is very overwhelming. I just don’t know how else to describe it. Everyone at my board table is so passionate about the work they do and the work they do for the municipalities. It really truly is an honour,” said Sachowski about receiving her award.
Sachowski grew up in the rural Dryden area where she lived for 20 years before moving to Eagle Lake in the community of Eagle River where she spent 40 years as a self-employed consultant to a family business in the logging, trucking, and contracting sector. Most of her work involved bookkeeping and budgeting, but Sachowski found a real passion for policy making. She wrote safety plans for the business that ensured both the employees and the employers of these had a safe working environment.
“When my daughter was in the elementary school system, I applied for a position on the Ontario Parent Council which was a legislated advisory at the time to the minister of education. I became the Northwest rep on that and I ended up chairing it and served under three education ministers. But just as a volunteer,” explained Sachowski.
She served under education ministers Dave Johnson, Janet Ecker, and Elisabeth Witmer. During that time, Sachowski was brought in to work alongside the director of education David Macleod for the Keewatin Patricia District School Board where she helped orientated principals on parental involvement. New legislation passed earlier that year where schools had to facilitate parental advisory committees, and Sachowski, being a parent herself and finding herself in a position where she could help make a change, wrote the manual on how to train school board councils to advise parents, volunteers, and student as well as how to create a strategic plan for the school year.
“I put on a training event for 150 people. We held it at Lillian Berg Public School in Vermillion Bay for the whole region,” noted Sachowski. “It was on how to make your council function. How to do strategic planning. We had different workshops going on that day. That was where my passion lay.”
She spent the majority of her daughter’s school career committed to ensuring the school boards were making the best decisions for possible for their students, parents, and teachers. However, after her daughter finished high school, Sachowski believe it was time to leave that work to someone who had school-aged children still in the public school system.
From there, Sachowski focused on her consulting business, but she didn’t shy away when the public seeker needed a willing volunteer. Her strategic planning skills and work with public officials heavily influenced the Early Years Steering Committee under the Harris government.
“I became the vice-chair of that committee,” Sachowski said. “We put out a strategic plan for the Early Years Steering Committee for Northwestern Ontario. It was called Steering Together for a Promising Start. The committee was made up of people from the health sector, the social services sector, the child care sector, and the education sector. Our steering committee became a template and an exemplar for the province. That was very exciting because today I see my grandchild in Kenora and Dryden in those programs.”
In 2013 when she felt it was time to seek out a new adventure using her skill as a public appointment secretariat for the Northwestern board of health.
“I didn’t know anything about health,” Sachowski admits. “But I jumped in with both feet first and with elderly parents, children, and young grandchildren in the region public health has certainly become my passion.”
It wasn’t very long before Sachowski made a name for herself on the Northwestern board of health. In 2016, Sachowski was appointed to The Association of Local Public Health Agencies Board of Directors as the Northwest Region representative. Providing leadership and support to alPHa and Ontario’s public health units, Sachowski advocated for public health in several forums.
Recently she participated in the Rural Ontario Municipal Association’s conference on behalf of alPHa and received a shout-out from Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Teresa Tam, at alPHa’s Winter Symposium.
She has been the main staple of the NWHU Board of Health for many years serving on various public health committees to this day. Her contributions to public health have continued in her roles with alPHa including the Board of Health Section Chair, Member of alPHa’s Election Readiness Committee, and the alPHa Executive Committee. In her roles over the years as Executive Committee Chair, Board of Health Vice-Chair, and Strategic Planning Committee member, Sachowski’s expert training in her field allowed her to advocate on key provincial files including public health’s response to Expert Panel and countless pre-budget submissions, election primers, position papers and policy documents.
Now as president, she is committed to continuing her leadership role as a strong advocate of the Northwest.
“Our goal is to sit at the table where ever there is a conversation about public health,” Sachowski said. “Over the next year, alPHa is going to work on behalf of its members on key strategic initiatives to contribute to public health, to effectively liaise with our partners, and our stakeholders. And with alPHa’s strong leadership voice, the 2022/2033 alPha board will advocate to remind Ontario’s decision-makers of local public health’s enduring value.”
Those strong words ring out with so many truths and provide the understanding that Ontario’s public health is in good hands with Sachowski leadership. Especially when she said, “my main goal is to preserve public health.”
When asked if she had any advice for the women and girls looking to enter the public sector, Sachowski brilliantly provide a quote from cultural anthropologist Margret Mead, “never doubt the small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that everything has.” Sachowski adds, “I believe you. Everything is obtainable and achievable. Go for it.”