Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

No longer an old boys' club: new chamber head

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JODI Moskal is being sworn in today as the seventh woman to chair the 140-year-old Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.

She is also most likely the only female electrician to head the celebrated Winnipeg business group.

But the 46-year-old partner (with her husband Steve Moskal) in Moskal Electric Ltd. does not have any qualms about being welcomed into what used to be considered an old boys' club.

"Six months ago I was sitting around a chamber boardroom and I was noticing the people there -- female, female, aboriginal, aboriginal, Lebanese, Muslim, French -- and the diversity around the table and how much it had changed in 140 years," she said. "I completely respect the history of the chamber and I thank all those men who built the city. But I love how the chamber has changed according to the population and the businesses here. I have so much respect for that."

Moskal represents the new energy the chamber has been showing lately.

"It's not just about the old-fashioned types of big business," she said. "The chamber understands that for the business community to do well the entire community has to do well."

She succeeds a couple of strong chamber chairmen in Brian Scharfstein and Brian Bowman.

Moskal makes no excuses about the fact she does not have a business degree, but rather a journeyman's ticket, and is proud of the way the chamber is accepting of the different presence its new chairwoman will have.

"I'm working at construction sites in blue jeans," she said. "But I am comfortable to go to chamber events in my jeans and I feel completely at home."

As a small business owner, she also might not be free for all the responsibilities the chairwoman of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce is expected to meet.

"Unlike the two Brians, I don't have a wife or an executive assistant," she said. "I might not be able to be there for every event but both of them have said they will step in. They've got my back. That's the culture of the chamber right there."

Moskal said her motivation for taking on an increasing amount of volunteer work at the chamber is about doing what she can to help the city become what it needs to be so her kids -- two boys aged 18 and 21 who are both at the University of Manitoba -- won't have to leave the city.

"It's very personal," she said. "I want them to stay in Winnipeg when they graduate."

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 9, 2013 B4

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