One Year Into COVID-19 It’s not every day that you start a new job and then immediately have to close down the office indefinitely and send everyone home amidst a once-in-a-century pandemic. But that was my whirlwind experience when I joined YWCA Edmonton as our new CEO one year ago today. I hadn’t even met most of our staff yet before making that difficult decision after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mandated an historic stay-at-home order
Olivia Butti was born February 1938 in her pioneer grandparents farmhouse in Musidora, Alberta.
Following high school, her banking career started with the Bank of Montreal, Bank of Commerce and Royal Bank. Early married life with a young family saw Olivia and her husband involved church, school and community life, but it was her role as an events planner for the Rosslyn Community League that led to her return to the workforce. Olivia worked in public relations for Girl Friday Personnel and an advertising franchise with Lawson and Jones Ltd. (Olivia was the first female awarded the franchise in the company’s 82 years in business). Olivia also studied 2 years of Parliamentary Law.
Olivia’s connections in the business community across the City led to her running for a successful Aldermanic seat on Edmonton City Council. At 38, in her second year on council, Olivia was diagnosed with cancer. After surgery and 22 Cobalt radiation treatments, Olivia was left with an atrophied shoulder, reducing the use of her arm for the rest of her life.
During her 12 years on City Council, Olivia chaired and/or sat on all standing committees of Council: Edmonton Police Commission; Vice-Chair Edmonton Regional Planning Commission; Development Appeal Board; Edmonton Research and Development Park; Edmonton Exhibition Association; Edmonton Klondike Board; Trustee Metro Edmonton Hospital Board #106; Director, Alberta Municipalities; Federation of Canadian Municipalities; Chair of the first FCM Policing and Crime Prevention Committee; FCM Representative to the Federal Solicitor General Advisory Board.
Olivia spearheaded Crime Stoppers in both Edmonton and Canada. During her time on council, she saw the building of the Coliseum, Commonwealth Stadium, Kinsmen Field House, Police Station, Convention Centre, Space Science Center, and the first LRT.
Following her time as an Alderman, Olivia still felt the call to serve. Despite a second bout of cancer 13 years after her initial diagnosis, Olivia remains committed to giving back to her community.
She has been involved with a number of organizations in various capacities in the past decades: Edmonton Convention and Tourism Authority; Edmonton Real Estate Board; University of Alberta Hospital Foundation; Festival of Trees; Capital Health Authority; Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation; President’s Advisory Council; Compassion House; Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and Canadian Cancer Society. She was involved in planning and development of the Don Mazankowski Heart Institute, the Lois Hole Hospital for Women and the Edmonton Clinic (Mayo North).
Olivia is valued inspirational speaker, and continues to lend her support and expertise to many educational initiatives and fundraising appeals across Canada. Olivia has been married to Peter for 64 years; together, they are parents to two children, nine grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
Source: Bio provided by Olivia Butti.