JO-DEE BURBACH, B.A., M.A.
Born and raised in Toronto, I have lived in Brampton, California, Texas and Bangkok, Thailand. After earning a BA in Liberal Arts, I began a graphic design and computer training business in the GTA, which continues to thrive after 25+ years. I chose Stratford as my home in 1999 because it's a beautiful, vibrant and unique community that has so much to offer, and it has been a wonderful place for my children to grow up.
After several years of commuting to Toronto (while also having three children) I decided to transition my business, Enhance Graphics, to the Stratford area in 2005. I currently have three businesses that I operate locally, and I work with many other Stratford small businesses and local arts groups. I am also the co-founder and editor of Start Stratford Arts and Culture Magazine. In 2014, I went back to university to enrich my skills by completing a Masters program in Communication Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. My research focus was political communication, and my thesis looked specifically at women in politics in Canada and their use of social media. I completed my MA in 2016, then crossed the stage and had my research published in an academic journal in 2017.
Since moving to Stratford, I have volunteered for many local organizations and groups, including Bedford School Council, Foundation for Education Perth Huron (Board Member, 6 years), Cycle Stratford (founding Board Member, 5 years) and the School Travel Plan working group (ATAC). The Local Community Meal volunteer, Avon Mennonite Church Community Meal volunteer, Stratford BIA committee volunteer (formerly the City Centre Committee), Doors Open Stratford (Board Member and Chair, 2 years), To Stratford With Love volunteer server, House of Blessing Empty Bowls volunteer server, Heart and Stroke Foundation (neighbourhood canvasser), Soup's On Green Team volunteer, Before arriving in Stratford, I volunteered for several years as a Big Sister for Big Sisters of Peel, and for World Vision as a 30 Hour Famine organizer.
In 2016, I was honoured to be a nominee for Optimism Place's Women of the Year award in the Arts category. In 2020 I was nominated for and received the Woman of the Year Award in the category of Allyship & Advocacy for my efforts focused on anti-Black racism in our community.
In 2018, I was elected to serve on Stratford City Council. I am Vice-chair of the Infrastructure, Transportation and Safety Committee, and am a member of the Social Services and the Community Services Subcommittees. I am a member and current Chair of the Energy & Environment Advisory Group and member and past Chair of the Active Transportation Advisory Committees, as well as a Trustee of the Board for Gallery Stratford. I was also a member of the steering committee for the Community Equity Action Team, a Stratford Police Services advisory group. I also volunteer as a Board Member for Here For Now Theatre.
I currently live in Stratford with my three children, who are busy being students in high school and university. Some of the many things that I love about Stratford are its vibrant local arts community, a wonderful library, great dining, beautiful gardens, world class theatre, and the fact that pretty much everything is within walking or biking distance. I like to walk and cycle as much as is possible and enjoy the natural beauty of our city.
I am passionate about a variety of issues, including the environment, the local arts scene, and safe & active transportation. I have been involved in delegating to Council twice, presenting two different petitions to Stratford City Council. In 2009, working with Dr. Trish VanBoekel, I presented a petition to Council requesting that the City discontinue spraying pesticides on sports fields and in public parks where our children regularly play. I'm happy to report that we were successful in having pesticide use eliminated from the City's parks and playgrounds.
In 2011, I presented a petition to Council to install a crosswalk (cross over) across Mornington Avenue at (or near) Princess Street. Although Council decided against the crosswalk, they did proceed with one of my alternate ideas, by completing a portion of sidewalk along the east side of Mornington between Delamere Avenue and the existing sidewalk further along. This has enhanced pedestrian safety in that area, especially for children traveling to and from Bedford Public School.