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
Sherry was born in July 1944.
Sherry studied at the University of British Columbia and received her Master of Social Work in 1973. She was a long-time social worker and advocate in British Columbia and Alberta, and worked in various social work positions in both Vancouver and Edmonton. She served as the health coordinator at Edmonton’s Boyle McCauley Health Centre from 1987 to 1994.
Sherry won the January 1994 municipal by-election to replace Judy Bethel. She was an openly lesbian candidate and became the first openly lesbian alderman in Edmonton’s history, and the city’s second openly queer alderman after Michael Phair. Sherry served as an alderman from January 1994 until the October 1995 election, in which she was defeated.
While on city council, Sherry oversaw the creation of the Edmonton Arts Council. She sat on various committees including the Safer Cities Initiative Advisory Committee (now REACH Edmonton Council for Safe Communities), the Utilities and Public Works Committee, and was vice-chair of the Community Services Committee.
In 1994, she received a Masters of Philosophy in Social Administration from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Sherry unsuccessfully ran for the New Democratic Party of Alberta in two different provincial elections, and also served as the party president and Chief of Staff for the NDP Caucus from 2006 to 2007.
Shortly after her municipal electoral defeat in 1995, Sherry became the executive director of the Norwood Community Services Centre from 1996 to 1998. From 1998 to 2006, McKibben was the executive director of the HIV Network of Edmonton Society.
Sherry volunteered at the Pride Centre of Edmonton and regularly contributed to Boyle McCauley News. She was a board member of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, and was part of the Public Interest Alberta’s Democracy Taskforce.
Sherry was a Muttart Foundation Fellow in 2001 and published her book entitled Daunting Tasks; Dedicated People – Stories in the Management of Change in HIV/AIDS Organizations. She received numerous awards over her career, including the Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005, the Alberta College of Social Workers’ John Hutton Memorial Award for Social Action/Policy in both 1994 and 2014.
Sherry passed away unexpectedly while vacationing in Mexico on January 30, 2014.
Sources: City of Edmonton Archives; Alberta Report; CBC News, February 9, 2014; Boyle McCauley News