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Kristina Verner

Vice President, Innovation, Sustainability & Prosperity, Waterfront Toronto

Sector: Public Sector
Discipline: Planning/Urban Design
Year: 2021

Kristina Verner

Vice President, Innovation, Sustainability & Prosperity, Waterfront Toronto

Magic Moment: While I have been so fortunate to be part of a number of exciting moments and initiatives in my career, one of the landmark or most ‘magic’ moments remains the opportunity that I had in 2011 to showcase my hometown of Windsor-Essex as one of the Top 7 Intelligent Communities of the Year. It was a wonderful opportunity to share the wonderful achievements that the region had been working so diligently on for so many years, spanning innovation, health care, international collaboration and education. It was a moment to celebrate so much that, until that time, was under-recognized. To have that chance, to tell the story of the region was remarkable. It not only celebrated the achievements of the past, but it also sparked a reimagining of the art of the possible for the area, catalyzing many of the high-impact programs that are still delivering amazing results today! Ona personal level, it was a pivotal moment that provided me with a pathway to then move into my role at Waterfront Toronto -which is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to work on a project that will have a long-term legacy of national significance.

Key Influence: Marisa Piattelli and Meg Davis.

Key Lesson: Marisa always encouraged her team to strategically explore challenges with integrity. She had a grace and professionalism that was unwavering. Her kindness and gentle nature consistently demonstrated leadership through patience and integrity.

Meg embraces new team members at Waterfront Toronto to ensure they understand the goals and objectives of the organization as well as grows competence and confidence in her team at all times. Meg is diligent, tenacious and tireless in her efforts to always act in a way that respects the public good. As someone that came in from outside of the traditional fields associated with Waterfront Toronto’s revitalization efforts, Meg has helped (and continues to help) me understand underlying issues and concerns from other disciplines. Her approach with her team is one that focuses on empowerment and trust, which I have long admired and have tried to employ in my own teams.

Next Big Challenge As An Industry: In order to be successful in the next chapter, it is my belief that we need to have a significant focus on climate resiliency and inclusive community development. Ensuring sustained investments in infrastructure, including transportation, will be vital as will designing and investing in communities that provide access to essential needs and opportunity for all. Having a thoughtful and intentional approach to inclusive prosperity will be necessary to ensure that the most vulnerable populations are not left behind.

On Championing Others… I feel it is essential to always provide support for colleagues as well as ensure that they have platforms to further their work – be that by encouraging them to voice their contributions and concerns, or promoting them for opportunities to showcase their expertise in more public forums (e.g. conferences and events). When working with junior staff, I feel it is important to provide them with moments that they can meet in terms of challenges that they can successfully navigate through practically honing their skills, encouraging continued professional development, as well as sharing candid, honest feedback with them in real-time, so that learning and development is ongoing as opposed to simply a part of a formal evaluation process. As part of that growth, it is important to be present in conversations, listening to learn where they have needs for support and then respond as appropriate to help them become increasingly more successful in their work.

One word that captures you: Authentic – I approach my work without pretense, with honesty and integrity.

Secret Talent: Admittedly I’m a *bit* of a trivia buff – especially movie trivia…