Pam Krause’s commitment to social change inspired her to pursue a career in politics and social activism.
Now, as the president and CEO of the Calgary Centre for Sexuality, she continues to advocate for human rights and marginalized communities and inspire the people around her.
Krause has been interested in politics since she was young — deciding that she wanted to study political science around the age of 15.
“I think, growing up, I had a pretty good sense of things and just sort of built into me was a very strong sense of right and wrong,” Krause says.
Krause completed a degree in political science at the University of Calgary before diving into a career in both provincial and municipal politics.
In 1987, she got a job working for an NDP MLA in Calgary. She continued working for the NDP for about six years after that.
“I really felt like I found a political home,” says Krause, reflecting on her involvement with the NDP. “It was more about, you know, inequality and helping families.”
In 1993, she moved to Victoria, B.C., where she worked for the Minister of Women’s Equality for a short period of time.
When she returned to Calgary in the mid ‘90s, there were no open seats with the NDP, so she got involved with the Elizabeth Fry Society — an organization that supports and advocates for women and marginalized populations who are systematically affected by social issues.
By the early ‘90s, she had become completely invested in social action.
Advocating for Calgary’s LGBTQ community
Exploring her role as a feminist and queer activist, Krause dedicated her time to organizing Calgary’s third Pride Parade as well as working in the pro-choice community.
It was Krause’s involvement with the Calgary Pro-Choice Coalition that lead her to the Centre for Sexuality.
Krause explains that the two organizations often worked together on projects.
A position at the Centre for Sexuality became available in 2001, which Krause applied for and subsequently got the job.
She has been the executive director of the Centre since 2004.
Krause described the Centre for Sexuality as a community-based organization that provides sexual and reproductive health programs and services for individuals across life spans.
Roseline Carter has worked with Krause for the past seven years, but has known her for about 12.
Carter comments on Krause’s ability to embody feminist leadership, and her aptitude for asking the right questions.
“One of Pam’s fundamental qualities that have led her to be successful is her ability to be curious,” Carter says.
She continues, “I think that she is just a genuinely curious person and genuinely creates space for people to be comfortable and share about themselves or their issues.”
Krause shares that the centre receives a lot of positive feedback regarding their work and credits the staff’s hard work in creating and maintaining safe spaces.
“People will actually come in here — I’ll be meeting with totally random people, it could be about anything — and they’ll walk in and say, ‘It feels really safe here,’” Krause comments.
The centre has been running programs since the mid-70s. A lot of the focus has been on educating Calgary schools on topics such as consent, anti-homophobia education, and LGBTQ inclusion.
“It’s the real deal, it’s very impactful,” says Krause. “All of it is rooted in research and best practices and I think that, quite frankly, sets us apart.”
Creating community-oriented solutions
Becky Van Tassel, who has known Krause for a decade and has worked for her for eight years, attributes a lot of the centre’s success and growth to Krause’s leadership.
“She’s just so wonderful at creating partnerships with other community organizations. I really believe that’s because of her open-minded and true belief that we need to be working together to create social change,” Van Tassel says.
Despite the many successes over the years, Krause still feels there is a lot more work to be done regarding certain topics.
“For me, being in this field for so long, issues like domestic violence have never gotten better,” Krause says. “I have been compelled throughout my career, and I feel it even more now, that we need to find effective ways of doing primary prevention.”
One way that Krause is pursuing this goal is through the WiseGuyz program, which focuses on educating young boys on topics including healthy relationships and masculinity.
The program started in 2010 in just two Calgary schools and has now expanded into 11.
Krause comments that the centre has started to train people in other parts of the province to facilitate the program.
Van Tassel notes that Krause played a key role in the success of the WiseGuyz program.
“[Krause] really took that initiative and that risk in order for WiseGuyz to happen, and it was because she really saw a need for us to be talking about masculinity, and consent, and homophobia in unique and different ways,” Van Tassel says.
Taking risks for the greater good
Van Tassel comments on Krause’s community-centered style of leadership.
“If she hears or thinks about an initiative, a project, or a program — one of the best things about her is that she doesn’t let lack of funding stand in her way,” says Van Tassel.
“A lot of executives and a lot of CEO’s won’t take those kinds of risks, where she really does.”
Krause spends her work days attending meetings with staff, funders, donors, participating in collaborative work or attending community events. She continues to work towards expanding many of the centre’s programs.
“All of our years of experience is all sort of culminating in this deep respect that the community has for us,” says Krause. “It just doesn’t get better than that.”
Editor: Holly Maller | firstname.lastname@example.org