Future List 2021 — catching up with the leaders in our inaugural list
People & Places

Future List 2021 — catching up with the leaders in our inaugural list

We catch up with the people featured in our inaugural Future List to find out what has changed — and where they are headed next

Steve Willis 
This past summer Steve Willis left his role with the City of Ottawa as general manager of Planning, Real Estate and Economic Development. Since joining the City in 2017, the press release by manager Steve Kanellakos noted, Willis made a “tremendous impact within the organization and across the city since that time. In the last five years, Stephen successfully led the development of the City’s new Official Plan, advanced the business plan and funding strategy to revitalize Lansdowne Park and supported the Mayor’s Economic Partners Task Force and the City’s economic recovery efforts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.” It also noted that he leaves his team in a good place to continue their goal of making Ottawa “the most livable mid-sized city in North America” — an oft-repeated phrase by Willis in terms of framing his vision. Kanellakos thanked Willis “for his wise counsel, pragmatic approach, incredible foresight, and commitment to continuously challenging the status quo.”

These days, Willis is working with international design firm Stantec Consulting in their urban planning division. “My new job allows me to work across the country helping communities with complex planning, real estate, and economic development issues,” says Willis.  

Harriet Clunie
Chef and entrepreneur Harriet Clunie continues to evolve, crafting a career path all her own. This year saw her working with such organizations as Second Harvest, “Canada’s largest food rescue charity”, with whom she developed videos to teach people how to use food that might otherwise end up in the trash. 
Fans of Clunie’s food should keep an eye out for her at events — she appeared at Harvest: A Feast of Fall in September and the Crave food and drink showcase in November.

In terms of long-term commitments, Clunie is prioritizing her own wellbeing. After spending some time at Torngat Mountains National Park on the Labrador Peninsula this past summer, she announced that she would be launching a catering business under Wandering Chef to do events, pop-ups, and classes when in Ottawa. “I could be cooking in other places in Canada or around the world when I’m not,” she wrote. “Don’t worry, I’ll post more on that in the near future.”

From left: Steve Willis, Harriet Clunie, Lynda Brown, Dick Bakker, and Vanessa Gilles. Photography by Christian Lalonde

Lynda Brown
For Lynda Brown, the pandemic not only halted the international travel that is so key to her work at Students On Ice (SOI), but also put up obstacles in her ability to perform with her throat singing group Siqiniup Qilauta. But Brown is no stranger to obstacles, and she has come out on the other side with increased energy for her ambitious, multidimensional career. This past summer she visited her home town of Pangnirtung, Nunavut with her sisters; in October, she accompanied a SOI expedition to Iceland with six northern youth for a five-day tour and attended the Arctic Circle Assembly, where she helped to lead a panel on engaging young leaders in Arctic policy. 

On the music side, Siqiniup Qilauta performed at Arnprior Cultural Night Market, at a Music and Beyond event entitled Indigenous Voices at Tabaret Hall, and for the Barrhaven Canada Day Celebrations. She’s excited to participate in an artist-in-residence program in Point Pelee next summer, which will see her husband Rob Nicholson paint during performances by Siqiniup Qilauta.

Dick Bakker
Not too much has changed for Dick Bakker, as he continues to be involved with the Ottawa Renewable Energy Coop (OREC) as well as his family’s business, One World Bazaar.

“All the weird and terrible things happening in the weather and energy markets are only pointing out that everything OREC has been doing is long overdue,” says Bakker. “We have continued to grow, in membership and projects, over the year and are optimistic for the coming year.” 

Bakker adds that OREC is seeing interest from citizens grow stronger every day. People know that something needs to change. However, he acknowledges that pessimism is strong, too. “We at OREC like to think of our mission as the antidote to helplessness. Our members see their participation in OREC as an ability to be part of the change we want to see.”

Vanessa Gilles
Professional soccer player Vanessa Gilles continues her winning ways. After joining the new franchise Angel City Football Club (ACFC), she scored the team’s first-ever goal on April 29 and went on to be a key member of the team, despite struggling with injuries that kept her from some games. 

“Being a part of Angel City this year has been an incredible experience, both on and off the pitch. The fans, my teammates, and the entire Angel City family have made representing this crest mean so much,” Gilles said in a statement for ACFC. “However, having the opportunity to go on loan to Lyon and compete in the Champions League among some of the best in the world has always been a dream of mine, and is one that I couldn’t pass up.”

Gilles is scheduled to return to Los Angeles and rejoin ACFC after the Lyon season and the 2023 World Cup.

She also continues to advocate for equal pay for female players, as well as environmental causes such as ocean pollution.