It was only hours before the half-day flight to Israel, and she was still finalizing the arrangements. She had prepared everything from booking airline tickets, to planning where the delegates would be eating lunch, and even what they would do in event of a rocket attack.
At only 29 years-old, Lesley Hoyles is the events and operations coordinator for the Nobel Women’s Initiative, an organization founded by six sister Nobel Peace Laureates in an effort to fortify and support women’s rights around the world.
As a child she loved science and always assumed that she would one day become a doctor or a veterinarian. So her decision to go into arts in university was a surprising and last minute decision. After two years studying at both the University of British Columbia and McGill University in Montreal, Lesley received her Bachelor of Arts as well as a major in women’s studies.
After graduating, she worked as an executive assistant at Planned Parenthood in Toronto, until she decided to return home to Ottawa, and enroll in the event management program at Algonquin.
Science had not been her only passion growing up. “I was always very organized,” said Hoyles. So being able to plan and orchestrate everything from flight itineraries to film launches and even entire international delegations, from start to finish, is a dream come true for her.
Although she graduated from the college in 2008, it wasn’t until last June that she landed her dream job.
“I saw the job posting last March and I said, ‘Wow, if this job exists then I have to apply for it!’”
She had been working in Ottawa for Citizen Advocacy since graduation, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to be a part of the NWI. “There’s more advocacy work and travel [at the NWI],” she said. “It’s so perfect.”
One of her first projects at the NWI was helping to organize the New York City launch of their original, documentary film “This is My Witness”; which follows the story of the tribunal of war crimes in Burma, now known as Myanmar. She is also in the process of planning the Ottawa film launch which will be held in February.
Only weeks ago she returned home from 10-day stay in the Middle East for the Nobel Women’s Initiative Delegation to Israel and Palestine. There, she helped bring together women from around the world to convene on issues of peace and help bring recognition to the efforts of the women on the ground, who are working for harmony and justice in the hostile territories.
“We met primarily with women’s groups working for peace to try and bring awareness to what they are doing, and to get a broader view of the conflict into american media,” she said.
She certainly had her work cut out preparing for such a delegation. “From rocket attacks to people being blocked at airports – it’s a bit of an unstable situation, so we had to create serious contingency plans just in case.”
According to Hoyles, nothing could have better prepared her for the work she does now than her college professors.
“They [the teachers] have all worked in the industry and we could really draw on their expertise,” she said. “They really care about our success.”
“What’s great about the program is that it didn’t focus on only one type of event, it set the framework for organizing any kind of event, it provided all the fundamentals, whether you’re planning an event for 10 people or for 10,000.”
Maybe one day she will plan an international peace delegation for 10,000 people, but for now, her focus is on an upcoming conference in Montebello on issues of human security and women’s role in creating it.
For Hoyles, the most fulfilling part about her job is being a part of the initiative as a whole.
“It’s hugely rewarding being able to go out to the delegations and see my work come to life,” she said. “To see it come off paper and become a live thing, to see the goals being met and the amazing experience the delegates are able to have, and to be a part of all of it.”
Hoyles hopes to continue to be a part of the NWI and implement the tools and skills she acquired at the college for many years to come.
“I definitely see myself staying here,” she said. “It’s my dream job.”