The Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS) is pleased to award Nancy Gardner, director of Strategic Management for the Saskatchewan Public Service Commission, with the 2021 Mentor Award bestowed virtually at the 2021 Tansley Lecture on April 8.
Presented annually to a JSGS Executive Internship Program mentor, the award acknowledges the recipient’s dedication to supporting and nurturing the growth of their intern, their commitment to the larger community and public sector governance, and their contributions to the school more broadly.
"The internship program has proven to be a big success over the last decade,” said Doug Moen, director, JSGS Executive Education. “It is very attractive for students to be able to have a practical internship in a public sector setting. It also provides the broader public service with students trained at a graduate level in policy and public administration and provides governments with a wide range of diverse talents.”
Moen remarked that the program is successful largely due to the high-quality experiences provided by mentors such as Nancy Gardner.
“A key to the program is having a mentor who takes a strong interest in the work of an intern and who exposes them to many useful experiences,” says Moen. “JSGS has been blessed with many mentors, like Nancy, who have embraced the internship program and have really worked hard to give their interns a successful experience."
With over 25 years in the Saskatchewan public service, Gardner believes her career has come full circle since her early days in the policy shop of Energy and Mines, where, as a young geologist, she worked on the Low Rank Coal Upgrading file. A few twists in the road led her to re-engineering the oil business, which eventually led her back to the Ministry of Agriculture as a senior business analyst.
As the fourth business analyst in the province to be professionally certified, Gardner joined the Public Service Commission’s newly created HR Service Centre in 2009 as manager of optimization and reporting, where she was involved in all aspects of the Planning and Accountability Management Systems.
“During this time, I gained greater exposure to the policy world, and through the JSGS Policy Certificate Program, I decided that I wanted to further my career as a policy analyst,” said Nancy Gardner.
In her current position as director of Strategic Management for the Saskatchewan Public Service Commission, Gardner combines her passion for all things planning with her expanding interest in policy, in this case, human resources policy for government.
“The best part of my job is constantly learning from a diverse group of policy professionals, many of whom are former or current JSGS interns,” said Gardner.
As a long-serving mentor, she is exceptionally supportive of her interns—both during and upon completion of their internship program, where she has helped many secure positions in government.
“Nancy is a culture-builder—she sees connections, brings people together, and helps them grow,” said Roberta Wallace, senior evaluator with the Ministry of Social Services, and former JSGS intern. “She is so invested in other people’s growth, and invited us, interns, to countless meetings and committees, and encouraged us to participate as much as possible.”
Beyond the internship program, Gardner has assisted with JSGS events and training. Gardner is the second mentor to receive this award.
Previously, Rhonda Laing, director of policy, planning and external relations at Western Economic Diversification Canada, was honoured with the mentor award in 2019.
Over the years, Laing has supported multiple interns and has assisted with the overall internship program by helping the school place students with internship opportunities best suited for each individual. She has also participated in several school-wide initiatives such as serving as a judge for its internal case competitions, and as a panellist speaking to students at its Multi-Government Career Summit.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and cancellation of the 2020 Tansley Lecture, the Mentor Award was not awarded last year.