AMS 2018-19 senior management team hired

Commissioners and directors speak to their priorities for the upcoming year

Top row, from left to right: Soren Christianson, Alex Birt. Middle row, left to right: Carla Namkung, Regina Codera, Myriam Morenike Djossou, Craig Draeger. Bottom row, left to right: Julia Göllner, Jessica Dahanayake, Rachael Heleniak, David Bath.
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After being hired by executive Team MLM on Feb. 12, the 2018-19 incoming AMS senior management team has officially begun the transition into their new positions. The hired directors and commissioners were chosen from an applicant pool of 34 people over two rounds of interviews. 

Director of Advancement: David Bath, ArtSci ’19

“I like being social ... I applied to the AMS directly because I want to make an impact on the student body before I leave Queen’s and I think this was the best way to do it for me,” Bath said about his motivation for applying. 

“I like being in the field, getting things done ... being a part of the base of organizations,” he later added. 

Bath’s prior experiences include being a Gael for ArtSci Orientation Week and a volunteer for Lost Paws and Good Times Diner. He also has experience with the Queen’s Development and Peace organization and the Vogue Charity Fashion Show. 

When asked about his priorities for next school year, Bath said he hopes to ensure a smooth transition of the ReUnion Street Festival into the Campus Activities Commission, who will be taking over that portfolio. He also wishes to increase accessibility between students and the advancement office.

Director of Information Technology (IT): Jessica Dahanayake, Eng ’20

“I love technology and I appreciate what the AMS does,” Dahanayake said about her new position. 

Since first year, Dahanayake has attended several conferences, held the position of Queen’s Musical Theatre sound director and is currently a tutor for EngLinks and the University. As a current IT office staff member, she’s well-versed in the workings of the office. 

Dahanayake also said her time spent as a tutor has given her the ability to teach people, something that will aid her in augmenting student interaction with the ITS office.

“A lot of my job will be fixing things when they break,” Dahanayake said. “I’m a huge advocate for technical literacy, so I think it’s really cool when someone comes up to you and they’re like ‘this thing happened, how do I fix it?’ and I show them how so they can fix it on their own later on.” 

Managing Director of the Student Life Centre (SLC): Craig Draeger, ArtSci ’18

“I have quite a rap sheet,” Draeger told The Journal of his past experience. “In a lot of these opportunities I’ve had the chance to interact with the SLC, to see both its shortcomings and the amazing potential it has to enhance student life at Queen’s.” 

Draeger expressed his excitement for his new job and continued involvement with the AMS. He currently serves as the AMS Director of Communications and is a member of University Senate. In the past, he has been the AMS Clubs Manager, an ASUS representative to the AMS and member of the AMS Board of Directors. 

His goals include enhancing current SLC services and aiding in the governance of the JDUC redevelopment project. Draeger intends to work with the AMS as a whole by listening to the student body and implementing their vision. 

“Sometimes it’s said that the SLC is the skeleton of the AMS and of student life at Queen’s, so my goal is to drink lots of milk.” 

Director of Communications: Rachael Heleniak, ArtSci ’18

“Most days after 6 p.m. I decide to take a power nap, and anyone who knows me knows I sleep like a rock ... when I got the call I was ecstatic ... that definitely woke me up.” 

Heleniak has held several positions on campus, including roles within the Judicial Committee and multiple AMS positions. Most recently, she was hired as the Print and Copy Centre’s (P&CC) Marketing Manager and midway through the year, moved up to Head Manager of the service.

“Every year I have been involved with the AMS in some capacity and it’s been very rewarding ... I really appreciated working alongside students, listening to students,” Heleniak explained. “I’m really looking forward to incorporating what students have to say and listening to them and finding a way to address student needs.” 

Heleniak sees her job as a unique opportunity to provide a forum to keep students informed and get student feedback, wherein she will prioritize transparency and accessibility. 

Director of Clubs: Regina Codera, ArtSci ’19

“When I look back I like to think I’m a chill girl but I’m not ... when I got the call ... I almost kicked my computer off the bed,” Codera said of hearing she’d been hired. “I’ve never been part of the AMS ... I definitely wanted to interact with a part of the student body that I’d never interacted with before.” 

Codera said she’s specifically looking forward to working on an incredibly diverse portfolio and getting to know the interests and viewpoints of the different clubs on campus.

Codera has been an ASUS Orientation Coordinator in the past and currently holds jobs as a campus tour guide and as ASUS’ Chief Returning Officer. 

“It’s always been important to me to get involved with very different things on campus to expose myself to all the different facets of what the University offers to its students,” she said.  

As she will be working with close to 300 clubs, Codera said she will aim to balance their needs by ensuring they all have a voice in the AMS. 

Director of Human Resources (HR): Carla Namkung, ConEd ’20

“I was in the middle of a CESA [ConEd Student Association] council meeting ... you could see me agonizing in the front row, I was really stressed out. I got the call ... I just left in the middle of it,” Namkung told The Journal. 

Namkung said she’s excited to oversee the HR office and hopes to diversify recruitment in collaboration with Communications. She also wants to  improve HR policies across the board. 

Namkung has been a CESA representative to the AMS for two years and has been involved with various clubs, such as Kaleidoscope. She’s also currently a Residence Don. 

“I love how students are able to get involved in so many different ways ... I really wanted to be a part of that process,” she said about her motivation to apply for the role. 

Commissioner of Campus Activities (CAC): Alex Birt, ArtSci ’18

“That call dropped like four or five times ... she calls me back and is like ‘do you want to accept the position?’ I was like, I didn’t hear you say I got the position,” Birt recalled. 

As a former ASUS Formal Commissioner, Birt oversaw the team who coordinated the event. Birt is also the Internal Development Coordinator for the global internship program AIESEC, as well as a P&CC staff member. 

“I love logistics and all that and it’s a great way to see what goes on in the Queen’s community,” Birt said about his passion for his new job. 

Birt intends to increase support for Orientation Week organizers, as well as the various conferences under his mandate. Another challenge and priority he highlighted is the ReUnion Street Festival, which will be now be under his commission. 

Commissioner of Academic Affairs (AAC): Julia Göllner, ArtSci ’19

“I was writing a software test ... I couldn’t focus very well, and then I submitted it and did terribly. I was sitting there and I was like, ‘it’s an omen of my academics’ and I’m not going to get [the job],” Göllner said about her Feb. 12 phone call. 

Göllner has been a former Queen’s Female Leadership in Politics Conference co-chair, as well as a member of the Queen’s Sustainability Conference and Project Red. She was also a volunteer in newly hired Rector Alex Da Silva’s campaign, where she helped formulate Da Silva’s academic platform. 

“I remember in that process just realizing how passionate I was about academics and how if I were to fill the position I could see some of those things come to fruition,” Göllner explained. “[My past roles] have given me the opportunity to meet people in different faculties and hear their complaints or things they’d like to see come out of academics at Queen’s.”  

Throughout her term, Göllner will prioritize financial accessibility and student mobility, as well as health, wellness and international engagement. She will also work to continue progress with Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance and spotlight experiential learning at Queen’s. 

“I love school more than anything else in the world,” Göllner added.  

Commissioner of Municipal Affairs (MAC): Soren Christianson, ArtSci ’18

According to Christianson, he applied to his job because he saw it was “really in line with [his] personal interests, as well as a formidable opportunity.” 

“I love the City of Kingston, I was here this past summer and I really want to work and help develop the relationship between Queen’s and the city,” Christianson added.

Christianson has been involved with the Queen’s Economic Case Competition and has substantial experience in marketing. His current position as Marketing Coordinator for the Academic Grievance Centre has provided him with a renewed perspective on the AMS and the work done by the society. 

He hopes to maintain transparency, mutual respect and open communication between his office and the city, as well as work with Göllner to promote co-op and extracurricular opportunities in Kingston. Christianson also intends to grow the committees under his commission. 

Commissioner of Social Issues (SIC): Myriam Morenike Djossou, ArtSci ’18

Morenike Djossou says her phone call left her both overjoyed and emotional. 

“I’ve always been very passionate about social justice so being able to hopefully make a difference and do my part for the University and create a more inclusive and equitable space for all students [is my goal],” Morenike Djossou explained. 

She’s been involved extensively on campus. Morenike Djossou volunteers with low-income youth in Kingston and Good Times Diner, has drafted equity policy for ASUS and is currently the Deputy of Education under the SIC. In this role, she oversees clubs such as the Mental Health Awareness Committee. 

Morenike Djossou’s goals include increasing engagement with the SIC and sensitizing the student body to the many issues on campus that individuals face. 

“As soon as a student on campus is being impacted by a given issue and it’s having an effect on their experience at Queen’s, that’s an important issue that should be addressed,” Morenike Djossou said. 

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