University of Calgary

Unconventional Paths

Submitted by alumni on Tue, 05/26/2015 - 11:30.

Unconventional Paths

Discover the unpredictable career paths of Matt Diteljan, BComm’14, and Frances Wright, BA’68.
by Kelsy Norman and Natalie Dawes

Frances Wright, BA’68, Psychology
As Calgary’s Famous 5 Centre of Canadian Women moves into its second summer of operations at Heritage Park, we thought we’d check in with the founder of the Famous 5 Foundation, as well as the Canadian Centre for Male Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse — Frances Wright. Here, the accomplished entrepreneur and community leader talks about her passion for equality, bringing a voice to those not often heard, and her Kryptonite, Charlie Rose

by Natalie Dawes


Which historical figure do most identify with?

There are two. First, I’d say Nellie McClung [one of the Famous 5] because she and her friends achieved the breakthrough for women to vote and run for office in provincial and federal elections. Second, I’d say Nelson Mandela. I was born in South Africa and so admire what he managed to do both during and after 27 years in prison.

Which living person do you most admire?

Barack Obama, as a person who is opti­mistic about the future. He’s probably wrong about Keystone, but … as for Canadians, I’d say [child abuse crusader] Sheldon Kennedy and [former international war crimes prosecutor and Supreme Court Justice] Louise Arbour.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

First of all, being with my wonderful husband [Ward 6 Councillor Richard Pootmans]. Second, I’d say that I don’t believe in perfect. I believe in excellence. There are certain professions or situations that require perfection, but most of life doesn’t, so get on with it and do something!

What do you do to relax?

Visit with family and friends. Cook (mostly soups). Read. Walk. Play my piano, although not very well anymore.

What were your best days at UCalgary?

My days spent in the library. Access to all that information was thrilling! You’d start out reading about social work and then maybe Roman history, then politics, then whatever.

What book is currently on your nightstand?

The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson.

What is your most treasured possession?

My health. If you’re not healthy, it’s really hard to do much. And my friends – though they’re not really possessions, are they?

What is your guilty pleasure?

Watching two or three televisions at the same time, tuned to politics or a documentary or cooking or music or … Charlie Rose.

What do you want to be remembered for?

Bringing people together to make the world a better place. At my funeral, I want people to wear name tags on their front and back because they’re probably going to be sitting for half an hour or so, and I want people to know each other, make new friends. Also, I want some petition to be signed. Why waste the time with chit-chat? Move an issue forward!

What’s the best advice you’ve received?

To try. Failure is not the end; it’s part of the journey. So keep going.

What advice would you give UCalgary’s class of 2015?

Any form of child suffering enrages me. I wish I could adopt all the children who are having a tough life.

What is your motto?

First, my favourite quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” And finally, be a good friend.