A unique, dynamic and versatile leader with a ‘servant leader’s heart’, Esther was born as one of eight children to Dutch immigrant parents; teaching her, at an early age, the meaning of teamwork, sharing, conflict resolution, negotiation, compromise and allegiance to family and country alike.
With a solid childhood foundation, Esther joined the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and began a career of serving her country; a choice that taught varied skills, such as, solving complex problems in stressful situations; working on team building and organizational skills; balancing competing demands and priorities; using an array of sophisticated hardware and firepower to ensure safety; collecting and analyzing data to protect Canada and its interests; and sharing leadership skills and techniques to direct, enable, and motivate subordinates in the successful achievement of a wide range of tasks assigned.
Following her service in the CAF (Navy), Esther utilized the lessons learned and served as Captain aboard a 450 tonne passenger vessel for the next fifteen years teaching her the invaluable skills of human, financial, and asset management. Ensuring the safety of the 400 souls aboard remained prime responsibility, however, exceptional inter-personal and organizational skills led to positive results for passenger, crew and company alike.
In 2002, Esther came ashore and joined Transport Canada (TC) as a Ship Inspector where she stayed for the next 10 years. During her time with TC, Esther accepted ever-increasing roles of responsibilities, often leading Canada in regional-led initiatives that addressed the unique circumstances and realities of northern shipping operations; served as regional manager for the three Prairie Provinces and three Territories; acted as Advisor to the Regional Director; and worked for Ottawa leading Canada in the international-acclaimed Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA).
In 2012, Esther joined Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation (MIT) as Director, Transportation Systems Planning and Development (TSPD) where she led a brilliant team of professionals responsible for assessing and planning Manitoba’s multi-modal transportation system from a strategic perspective to support the Province’s priorities and policies related to community/economic development, trade, safety, security, efficiency and sustainability. In 2013, Esther accepted the position and responsibility as Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) for the Motor Carrier and Transportation Policy Divisions of MIT where she continues to provide strategic, visionary leadership to meet the current and future needs of the Government of Manitoba.
In addition to a unique work history, Esther is holder of three degrees; all achieved on full athletic/academic scholarships. Esther obtained a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), with Honours, and a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.), with Distinction, from the University of Manitoba (U of M), as well as, a Master’s Degree in Marine Management (MMM) from Dalhousie University, graduating top of her class. Specializing in Arctic shipping, Esther produced a final thesis titled, “Canada’s Third Ocean: Ignore or Embrace?” a work calling for an international multi-functional regime building strategy to deal with the unique problem of Arctic Ocean management.
Coupled with a strong academic and work background, Esther maintains a healthy community service as she continues to play hockey in the A.S.H.L. and indoor soccer in the Women’s Master Class Division of the Manitoba Soccer Association (MSA). In addition, Esther continues to teach martial arts to ‘at-risk’ inner city kids on an as needed basis and volunteers with Children’s Hospital, Special Olympics and the Society for Manitoba with Disabilities (SMD).
As a highly motivated woman with a unique and innovative leadership record in the transportation sector, Esther will continue to serve and lead in such a capacity as to always ensure excellence.