A fond farewell for Heidi Fawcett, diocesan events maven

By on January 1, 2023

There was bittersweet news at the November meeting of Diocesan Council when Bishop Shane Parker let council members know that events and communications co-ordinator Heidi Fawcett would be leaving the Diocese in early December to take a new job at Ottawa’s Shaw Centre.

There was a warm round of applause and appreciation for all of Fawcett’s stellar contributions contributions to the work of the Diocese, particularly bringing events such as Synods, clergy conferences, and Bishop’s Galas together and for the sense of fun she brought to it all. The bishop congratulated her on the new opportunity to grow in her career but expressed the sentiment that will undoubtedly be shared throughout the diocese that she will be missed. 

Fawcett came to the Diocese early in her career in 2012, after completing a degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing and working for several years at a communications firm and then a non-profit organization.  When the non-profit closed and she was looking for work, her father suggested that she send her resume to the Diocese. A few months later, she was hired as an administrative assistant. She began her work as administrative support for five standing committees and a few staff members.

But before long, she began helping in other areas. “I got on the Bishop’s Gala committee, I started planning the Christmas party, a lot of stuff I just picked up because I liked to do it. Bishop John [Chapman] figured out that I liked to do events, so then in 2015 he made me the events co-ordinator, so I looked after all of the events – the Bishop’s Gala, Synod, Diocesan Council, clergy conference, clergy day.” 

She and Heidi Pizzuto, executive assistant to the bishop, worked closely, notably on the Bishop’s galas and became affectionately known as “the Heidis.” 

“Her good cheer and sense of humour are pretty much unmatched, and she has been a wonderful colleague-turned-friend,” said Pizzuto. 

“I always liked planning Synod and the Bishop’s Gala, anything where the whole Diocese came back together,” Fawcett told Crosstalk. “It’s a lot of work leading up to it …. but then when you get there and you see everyone, the energy just completely fills me and fills the room and then you think this was worth it.” 

One highlight was the Women’s Conference in Jerusalem, she said. “It was fun to organize, fun to go on, to meet the women, actually get to go to Jerusalem and see everything,” she said. 

One of Fawcett’s extracurricular activities demonstrated her talent for making good use of social media for social justice. In the fall of 2015, she came across a magazine article that highlighted the struggle women have accessing sanitary products when they are homeless. Soon after, someone posted an idea about filling purses with essentials to give vulnerable women. She put the two ideas together. “I had seen so much of the ministries through [Canon] PJ [Hobbs] and what these women go through, so I thought ‘I want to get 50 purses together before Christmas and I’m going to take them around and just hand them out to women downtown’… So I made this little poster and put it up on Facebook and told all my friends.”

She had gathered about 10 or 15 purses when she got a call from a contact at the Ottawa Police Service, where she was a long-time volunteer. The woman offered to share her poster within the police service, but asked if Fawcett was ready for the response, which would “not be small.” Fawcett said yes. “A few days later I got a call from one of the stations and they had 25 purses for me. …And then another station called me, and they had more, and then it got spread all over Facebook and radio stations were talking about it.” A media company also donated products and a video. Purses started piling up in her apartment, her parents’ basement, police stations, the diocesan office…. By the week before Christmas, they had collected 4,000 purses. Fawcett says she was grateful that the police got so involved, offering her a room to sort purses and loading up cruisers to help her and her then boyfriend [now husband] Shane deliver purses to community ministries, women’s shelters and every agency that served women in the city. She continued the campaign for two more years, but then stepped back to let the police carry it forward.

In 2017, she took on managing social media for the Diocese, and in 2020, Bishop Shane appointed her events and communications co-ordinator.

Although Fawcett said she is sad to leave friends at the Diocese, she is excited about the challenges of her new job where she could be planning large events such as conferences and trade shows. She will be one of seven event services managers and there should be room for her to learn and grow in her career. Best wishes, Heidi!


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