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Meet RAC Communications Specialist Lee McPhail

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Lee McPhail is someone who looks forward to snow each year. Growing up visiting her father’s home province of Alberta, the snow meant it was time to hit the slopes.

“I’m a downhill skier, I like that adrenaline rush!” said McPhail.

That adrenaline fix, for Lee, also comes from learning. Joining the RAC and leaning about the rail industry is a steep hill, but one she handles with the same approach and eagerness of any double diamond challenge.

“My friends and family don’t realize how much more there is to the industry than meets the eye – and neither did I,” said McPhail. “I read, learned, got advice and coaching so I could get up to speed on issues and industry specifics as quickly as I can. And I love the idea that I’m going to be learning every day.”

Where Lee is a ready-made expert is on communications planning and social media content creation. And she quickly tackled those aspects of her job like the pro that she is.

Having joined RAC in October 2023, Lee manages the RAC’s growing social channels, builds daily and monthly newsletters, and more. She promotes RAC events like Rail Symposium: Safety & Climate Resiliency on our Rails!, Women In Rail, and the annual Safety and Environment Awards.

Before joining the team at RAC, she worked at a PR agency where her focus was on healthcare, another highly regulated and multi-faceted sector. She explains that she was looking for a job that had an in-person aspect since all of her work previously was remote.

Hearing of the RAC’s exceptional team, hybrid work arrangements, and overall company culture, the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues in person was a significant draw for her.

“Even just two or three days a week in the office, being able to pop your head in and say hi to someone adds a different dimension to relationship-building and makes it easier to keep a pulse on what’s going on,” said McPhail.

With so much to learn at RAC, McPhail’s been interested in diving into the less apparent aspects of the industry that often go unnoticed but significantly shape the landscape of rail operations.

Projects like Youth in Rail and Women in Rail have particularly captured McPhail’s attention for their focus on the 34,000 railroaders that make Canada’s rail sector so vibrant.

“People’s stories are always compelling and what I’ve seen of the industry so far certainly suggests that’s the case in rail, perhaps even more so than other industries. Railroaders are passionate, committed, and deeply driven to the right thing,” she says.

She values campaigns that not only highlight diverse opportunities but also put faces to the various roles, making the industry more relatable to more people. Honing in on the human aspect of rail gives people further insight into what rail entails and puts it into perspective for youth or anyone else interested, she explains.

In her free time, McPhail serves as the Director of Communications for the Therapeutic Riding Association of Ottawa-Carleton (TROtt). Through social media management and media outreach, she strives to raise awareness of the organization’s impact and attract donors, volunteers, and riders to their unique programs.

Lee and her partner, Michael, live in south Ottawa – and Lee still tries to head for the ski centres north of the city whenever she can.

“They’re certainly not the Rockies. But I am so thankful to live in a place where I can be out of the city and strap on my skies within 30 minutes of leaving work.”

Day in, day out, Lee works to take RAC’s communications with all audiences to new heights. Welcome aboard!