Job Title: Executive Director of the Legal Education Society of Alberta, Director of the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education of Alberta (CPLED)
Why She’s Top 40: She dedicates her work and volunteer time to ensuring that Alberta articling students and lawyers receive the support they require for their continuing education.
What Do You Like Most About Edmonton?: “The university. Physically, I love it – the architecture and the buildings and being able to walk through and see how things have changed through that lens. We are very fortunate here to have such an intersection of really bright minds and talent in so many different areas.”
It’s hard to see where, for Jennifer Flynn, the line between education and work is drawn. The born-and-raised Edmontonian has focused much of her life in the realm of continuing education. She spent nine years at the University of Alberta, earning a Bachelor of Commerce (with distinction), Juris Doctor and a Master of Arts in Communications and Technology, before trying her hand as a lawyer for a private practice in July of 2000.
And while a career as a lawyer could have been the dream-come-true for some, Flynn’s passion was in the realm of continuing education – something she discovered when leaving the practice in 2002 to become an instructor at the JR Shaw School of Business at NAIT. There, she was awarded the Instructional Excellence Award in 2005 – nominated by the students. “That was really something I had been looking for that I didn’t get as much when I was practising law,” says Flynn. “The ability to do interesting work but to also have the opportunity to have a lasting impact. That’s pretty compelling to me.”
The newfound passion for education sparked career changes for Flynn, who joined the Legal Education Society of Alberta in 2008, and became the first woman to hold the position of executive director earlier this year. The move comes after five years as the organization’s managing director.
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As LESA’s executive director, Flynn is responsible for overseeing the organization, which manages 500 volunteer positions that make up the meat of the organization.
“I think it’s important when you are in a leadership position in a volunteer-supported organization that you should know what volunteering is like,” says Flynn.
And with an excess of 200 hours a year volunteering for various continuing legal education associations, such as the Association of Continuing Legal Education Directors, the International Association for Continuing Legal Education and Law Society of Alberta’s Continuing Competence Committee, amongst others, it would be hard to argue her passion for donating her time.
“Volunteerism falls into my idea of life-long learning,” says Flynn. “I see it as a way to learn, expand your skill-set, get diverse perspectives and try things out that you can’t do in your regular day job. So I find that it is a huge help with the work that I do.”
How do Jennifer and her husband and fellow Top 40 Under 40, Aaryn Flynn, as parents to boys aged 10 and seven, keep it together?
Keep Fit: Early in their careers, the couple took aikido classes together – both earning black belts in the martial art.
No outsourcing: Taking cues from their work lives, the Flynns plan their schedules and sync their Outlook calendars to ensure that they optimize the time they can spend with their family. This way, they ensure that even when one parent is travelling, the other is at home with the kids.
Take a (mini) break: When work and family take up the majority of their time, vacations can be hard to come by. The solution? Forty-eight-hour adventures. The couple will take 48 hours every so often to pack up and jet off to a far-away destination such as London, England to see the sights or Denver to catch a football game.