Summer 2023 Member Profile – Jane Talbot

A most important lesson in the professional life of Jane Talbot was learning what not to do.

Jane moved to Vancouver from the eastern U.S. in 1998. Her first job here was running the health and wellness program for the YMCA on Burrard. She loved that work but soon found something even more meaningful when the B.C. Persons with AIDS Society hired her as its director of treatment information and advocacy. “I grew up at a time when HIV was emerging,” she says. “I’m highly mission focused, and I knew this job would be a life-changing opportunity.”

She left her work with the AIDS society in 2007 to attend Webster University in Vienna and complete her master’s degree in international relations. When she graduated in 2008, it was the early days of the financial crisis, and the job market was bleak. “I was back in Vancouver, and it felt like the world was falling apart. Jobs were hard to get.”

It was then she learned that lesson about what not to do. Jane accepted a position as regional manager for a national non-profit organization. It was the first time in her professional life she took a job for the sake of having a job. “It was not the right fit. So, I left and made the decision to never again work at something I am not passionate about.”

After leaving the non-profit, Jane was hired as the manager of the BCSPCA Burnaby shelter. In this case, the fit was perfect. “I am passionate about animal welfare — always have been. You see the best and the worst of people working at a shelter. I remember this dog brought in the week before Christmas. She was old and dirty. It took days just to clean her ears. When we discovered she had a tattoo, we called the family. They didn’t want her back. I remember being so distraught. But here’s where the story turns beautiful. This family from the Island reads about her, and they come all the way to adopt her and have her home for Christmas.

“I believe people are fundamentally good. Shelter work taught me that for every person who is unkind to an animal, there is an army of people who want to help.”

During her years at the BCSPA, Jane moved to human resources and eventually was promoted to director of regional operations. But her profound passion for animal welfare had a price tag. By 2016, she felt burnt out and had to step away. “We were dealing with so many animal seizures at the time and I’d not set boundaries for myself, so I was often working up to 70 hours a week.”

In 2017, she began work at Downtown Van (formerly Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association) under the leadership of the now-retired Charles Gauthier. In May, she was appointed the association’s President and CEO.

The revitalization of downtown Vancouver in these post-pandemic days is her top priority. She is immensely optimistic about the future. “Conferences are back, travel is back, the night-time economy is on its way back, and weekend foot traffic is great. The only area we are slow to see recovery is the return of office workers. But when compared to other Canadian cities on this statistic, we are only behind Montreal.”

“My biggest concern for downtown right now is Granville Street. We must fix it. We don’t have to make it perfect, but we must start making progress on making it better.”

Jane joined Terminal City Club in 2018. “Downtown Van holds a lot of events here so becoming a member was an obvious and easy decision. I use the club all the time for work, fitness, socializing. I love the place and the people.”

Her leisure time these days is mostly spent home with her husband Richard. “My husband is my best friend. I just love hanging out with him. Wherever he is, that’s where I want to be.” The other significant other in her life is Rellie. “She’s a special-needs cat, and she’s perfection.”