FEATURE STORY Jeanne Inch (’71) builds an amazing career by seizing the right opportunities — and not being afraid of a challenge by Aloma Jardine Words to live by Inch retired in April as director general and chief operating officer of the Canadian Conservation Institute, the last in a long line of varied work that included time as a journalist, in public relations, and at Industry Canada and Canadian Heritage. She travelled the world, organized large-scale events, and represented Canada on international committees. “I think the thing that connects it all together is that I like change and I like challenge. I have not necessarily sought promotions or advancement, but just interesting work,” she says. Inch earned a degree in Canadian history and literature, but for most of her career worked in science, technology, and business. Her work at the Canadian Conservation Institute was a return to her first passion — Canadian history — as well as the culmination of her career experience. “The reason I stayed for nine years is because it just brought together everything I’d ever done,” she says. “Communications, PR, editing and writing, scientific research, technology, business, management and leadership experience, my international experience, my interest in art history and cultural institutions.” The conservation institute is an international centre of excellence in heritage conservation that helps preserve and protect significant Canadian artifacts. “It is quite unique internationally,” Inch says. “There is not another institute in the world that has a mandate to support every J eanne Inch cannot remember who said it, but during her Convocation week at Mount Allison she heard some advice that she took to heart. museum, art gallery, archive, and aboriginal cultural centre in the country.” One of her greatest accomplishments as director general was a 2007 symposium on preserving aboriginal heritage that brought together people from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities with professional conservators from across the country and around the world. “Aboriginal people believe an object needs to be used to have value, but in using these objects there is a risk of damage or deterioration. The symposium brought the technical and traditional approaches together and created a dialogue,” she says. Inch watched treasures come and go — a 500-year-old parka that had belonged to a Thule child; paintings by Riopelle, Alex Colville, and Krieghoff; the charter of the Hudson’s Bay Company; and banners from the War of 1812 that arrived “almost in a state of dust,” which were restored, if not to their former glory, then at least to a state where that former glory could be appreciated. But earlier this year, she felt it was time to move on. “I’ve always believed an organization needs to have change at the top to move it forward and I felt that I had done all that I could as the director general and the institute needed a fresh perspective,” she says. So she decided to retire — sort of. Never one to pass up a challenge, she says the door is open if the right opportunity comes her way. “I can’t see myself as a retired person,” she says. “One of my goals in leaving the federal government was to lead a more creative life — theatre, writing, photography, nature… It is time to sit back and let things settle a bit.” “He said, ‘Whatever you do in life, don’t do it for too long,’” she says. “That advice has been with me for a long time.” 16 / Fall 2013 / RECORD