Celebrating Ann MacLean

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EDITOR’S NOTE: In recognition of the announcement that former New Glasgow mayor Ann MacLean will receive the Order of Nova Scotia, we are reposting this article that ran in March as part of The Advocate’s 125 Stories, 5 stories, 5 generations, 5 amazing women feature …

A true visionary leader, Ann MacLean exemplifies what it means to be a powerful role model after serving as the first female mayor for the Town of New Glasgow.

MacLean gained renown over her professional career, or rather her two professional careers: one in health care, the other in politics where her contributions to municipal and national government as mayor of New Glasgow are still held in high regard.

Her time in the health field began after she earned Bachelor of Arts and Masters degrees in social work from Dalhousie University in Halifax and ended with her retirement as a senior administrator after having served as vice-president of Community Health for the former Pictou County Health Authority.

While working at her demanding day job in the health care field, MacLean also decided she had a lot to give to her community so she threw her hat in the ring of municipal politics.

She proved to be a true trail blazer in the arena of municipal politics, paving the way for other women to enter and take leadership roles in this field. Current New Glasgow Mayor Nancy Dicks has often credited MacLean’s passion and dedication for helping her to think about entering municipal politics.

MacLean was first elected as a member of town council in New Glasgow in 1985. She served for two terms before she was elected New Glasgow’s first female mayor in 1991.

She was last elected mayor in 2004 and did not reoffer when she decided to retire in 2008.

During her working career, MacLean wore many hats and has extensive community and volunteer service in her community as well as provincially, nationally and also internationally. She served as president of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, now called the Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities, and also on the Nova Scotia Police Boards.

She was a director on the national board of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and in 2004-05 served as FCM president.

She chaired several FCM standing committees, including the federation’s National Transportation and Communication Committee, its Policy Development Committee and its working group on Community Energy Planning.

MacLean has been a champion for women in politics and has an award bearing her name. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities established a national award, “The Ann MacLean Award” for outstanding service by a woman in Municipal Politics that annually recognizes former female municipal politicians who have shown exemplary service to their communities.

She has been cited for her work in achieving a federally funded municipal gas tax while serving with the FCM and improvements to New Glasgow that include its marina and trail system. During her time with the FCM, MacLean launched a multi-faceted initiative to elect more women to roles in municipal politics.

She was also appointed to the Nova Scotia Round Table on the Environment and Economy and served on the Nova Scotia Advisory Board on Colleges and Universities and as a member of the Nova Scotia and Canadian Social Work Associations and Canadian College of Health Executives.
MacLean was the first recipient in Pictou County of an honorary diploma from the Nova Scotia Community College for her community involvement.

She is currently on the Halifax Stanfield International Airport’s board of directors, a role she has enjoyed since February 2015. In May of 2017, MacLean returned to Pictou County to take part in an Engage & Empower session where local residents spoke about what they felt were the issues in their community.