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Catherine Henry

Employee Profile: Catherine Henry
Manager of Communications & Outreach

When Catherine Henry first applied for her job with Operation Lifesaver (OL), even she had no idea how close to home the work would hit.

The longtime political aide turned communications practitioner was intrigued by OL’s purpose and mission. It was also an opportunity to put her municipal and stakeholder relations experience to new uses.

But when she told her aunt about the role, she discovered a deeper connection.

Catherine learned that her great grandfather, Ralph Henry, a farmer in Ottawa’s rural east-end, had been struck and killed by a train at a level crossing four days before Christmas in 1940.

Archival newspaper reports suggest he was on his way to deliver eggs to a customer when he was struck.

“The consequences of family tragedy suddenly seemed even more real,” Catherine says.And her empathy for family tragedies doesn’t end there: in 2016, Catherine lost a brother to suicide.

“He took his own life totally unexpectedly,” she says. “I know what families go through and the huge ripple effect these types of tragedies can cause. We’re all interconnected. So, this job means a lot.”

Catherine’s earlier jobs have involved advocacy for road safety, cycling safety, and Indigenous participation.

In her current role, Catherine manages OL’s municipal outreach and communications efforts, including its Community Safety Partnership Program and Operation Clear Track initiative.

Catherine has a partner and two teenage daughters and lives in an east Ottawa neighbourhood — not far from where her great grandfather lost his life.

She can lose herself for hours at a time gardening in her sizeable backyard.

Catherine says she is happiest when she is out in nature.

A cyclist and cross-country skier, she commuted to work by bike for many years (prior to the pandemic) and has competed in ski races and loppets. She is also very happy to go at slower paces.

It’s all part of finding balance in life – which, as Catherine knows all too well, can be precious and fleeting.