New Cobourg staffer brings fresh perspective
Jackie Chapman Davis is Cobourg's new community events co-ordinator. She has long enjoyed bringing her family to the town's festivals and events, and is excited for the opportunity to be in on their planning. CECILIA NASMITH/Northumberland Today
Fresh from her job as acting program manager of the Children’s Foundation (part of the Children’s Aid Society), Jackie Chapman Davis has joined the Town of Cobourg staff as the new community-events co-ordinator.
Chapman Davis’s resume is steeped in hospitality and planning positions for such organizations as the Canadian Medical Association, the Conference Board of Canada and Ottawa’s Fairmont Chateau Laurier.
She is also familiar with the special flavour of Cobourg’s festivals and events through years of visiting them with her family.
“They’re exciting, you get to meet lots of people,” she said in a recent interview.
“When the opportunity came up, I thought, ‘How exciting to be able to help plan them as well as go to them.”
Chapman Davis is a Colborne resident, and has found the Waterfront Festival particularly appealing to her family — “especially as my children are getting a little bit older and they’re able to go off on their own. There are so many things to look at.”
While most of us go to these events for the sheer enjoyment, Chapman Davis is keenly aware of the behind-the-scenes part of them. She will be meeting with the many different people involved with the festivals, as well as the people who go to them, to get an idea of what’s working and what could be working better. She would also like to attend festivals and events in other communities to see their best ideas at work (and perhaps bring a few back).
“It’s not about changing everything, but making sure we are getting the most people coming and seeing what we might need to change — not doing things because we have been doing them forever,” Chapman Davis said.
“It’s about engaging the groups and community, and finding out what’s hot and what people want to do and see.”
As she has come to know more about Cobourg’s events, she is surprised how many there are (from big splashy festivals to smaller fundraisers and walks) and how well-attended they are.
And they all represent so many groups to meet with and get to know. Coming into the position as the big festival season begins to slow down gives her a little breathing room on that.
Chapman Davis is also looking forward to her first report to council. Whenever an event is planned, the community-events co-ordinator works behind the scenes on nuts-and-bolts components like permits and infrastructure. Then she compiles a report that lets council know what will be happening, what costs might be incurred and her recommendations on things like road closures.
“I am not about changing just to change things, but sometimes a new set of eyes is good,” she said.
“And it’s not about just bringing tourists into the community. I want to make sure the residents of the community know the festivals are for them too.”
Chapman Davis is the daughter of Alan and Judy Chapman of Colborne, where she grew up. Following her years at Colborne Public School and East Northumberland Secondary School, she went to the University of Ottawa to finish her schooling. She has a psychology degree, as well as degrees in business marketing and conventions and meeting management.
She stayed on in Ottawa to start her career and begin raising a family.
She and her husband Geoff Davis returned to Colborne about five years ago, when Chapman Davis’s mother died and she wanted to be there for her father. And the icing on the cake is the chance to raise her family in a small-town setting (that would be nine-year-old Gracie, eight-year-old Adelina and five-year-old Finn).
“Moving from a city to a small community, we had to change our life significantly — and I love it. I love knowing people when you walk down the street, and it’s safer for the kids,” she said.
“I love the city, but I love raising my family where kids can be kids, and not have to go to the park just to have fun.”
In their spare time, the family loves to put their camper to good use, and Chapman Davis says one of the things her family enjoys most in the world is fishing.
Picking up her life in Colborne again has allowed her to reconnect with old friends and make some great new friends. And while they had plenty of friends in Ottawa, she said, she can now offer her children the joys of having family nearby as well.
And on top of that, she said, “it’s exciting to do what I went to school for.”