Our Leader Spotlight | Karina Armstrong
Quality & Patient Safety Specialist, Niagara Health
This series is dedicated to introducing and celebrating the participants of the ACL+ 2021/22 program. Each week, we will focus on one of our leaders, sharing a little bit about them and what motivates them to explore community leadership in Niagara.
Karina Armstrong is a Quality and Patient Safety Specialist with the Niagara Health hospital system. She supports various hospital-wide initiatives, provides data analysis to clinical units, and supports larger councils and committees. Before Niagara Health, Karina worked for the Ontario Renal Network, and at the Business Education Council of Niagara.
In her free time, Karina enjoys cooking with family and trying new recipes, visiting local wineries and restaurants, and playing with her niece and nephew.
Why are you personally motivated to explore civic leadership?
I view civic leadership as an opportunity to support members of my community by addressing their challenges in partnership with other civic leaders. I see this role as one that networks to think creatively for global solutions to local challenges, and gives back what one can in order to fully enjoy what one has.
For me, I cannot fully revel in the joys of life while so many others are unable to have the same experience, and I want to give back to the community that I enjoy living and working in so that everyone else may do so as well.
What makes a strong, self-sustaining community is supporting one another and creating opportunities from this network. In acting as a civic leader, I am working toward this goal by helping to create this environment and inspiring others to contribute to it.
What, in your view, is the most significant issue/opportunity facing our community? Why?
Employment and housing are a combined challenge for the Niagara region, in my observation. As a tourist location, we rely heavily on visitors for our businesses to thrive, and this primarily happens during the summer season.
In the winter, I’ve seen many jobs laid off and workers struggling to find the same income they had during the summer tourism season. Often, I hear individuals having to take on several part-time jobs, usually at minimum wage, just to keep up with their bills and debts, but they do not gain the benefits of a full-time position.
It is very difficult to advance into a meaningful work-life when work opportunities are this limiting.
Employers in Niagara may need more incentive or capacity to offer better-paying positions and offer benefits, paid sick leave, and pension. My sense is that a stronger network of Niagara companies and organizations can create these opportunities.
At the same time, housing prices are increasing and it is becoming more difficult for some people to build a life in Niagara, especially with inconsistent employment. Our community is growing with new residents, but this growth in the housing market is also making it more difficult for current and younger residents to afford homes here. I hear that our younger population continues to leave Niagara in search of more opportunities that are simply not available here, and that is a shame and a loss to the bonds of our community.
Niagara residents need more sustainable opportunities for employment as well as housing so that they may continue to work and live here. I believe growth and change are important for Niagara’s future, but without leaving behind those who have been a part of its past and foundation. They must benefit from these changes as much as newcomers and employers.
What individual attributes do you hope to develop or expand upon?
I am looking to improve my networking and problem-solving skills. These are important skills for any part of life and career and are particularly beneficial in my position within the healthcare sector. The best solutions are found when many individuals can provide their insight and ideas, and so these two skills go hand-in-hand
What Is ACL+?
Accelerate Civic Leadership+ is our answer to adapting our flagship Accelerate Civic Leadership (ACL) program for virtual learning.
Designed as a tool to expand the number of individuals who accept leadership roles in business, government, and social organizations to meet future challenges in the region, ACL+ strengthens the bonds within the region. It serves as a retention and engagement tool for our Niagara businesses and non-profits.