5 Things you should know:
About Annie Hillis
By Kathleen Wilker
We caught up with Annie Hillis at Alpha Soul Café during her last week as Executive Director of the Wellington West BIA. As the driving force behind connecting businesses with each other and developing a forum for them to collaborate and develop, Hillis usually enjoys staying in the background. She prefers shining the spotlight on area businesses, events that animate the street and creative public spaces in the neighbourhood. Graciously, Hillis—who advises us to “stay tuned” for what she’ll be up to next—agreed to take centre stage for a Kitchissippi Times exclusive.
1. Annie loves speaking Spanish.
“I went to high school in Costa Rica,” she says. “My father still lives there.” Although she doesn’t often get the opportunity to speak Spanish these days, Hillis loves to.
2. Annie thinks the best way to get to know people is through volunteering for big projects.
When she moved to Ottawa and enrolled her kids at Elmdale P.S., she signed up for Bookfest Coordinator at her first parent council meeting. “The responsibility was a lot more than I imagined it would be, but the parent—Paula Roy—who had been in charge of Bookfest for many years gave me her well-organized binder and that was a big help. And I met a lot of people through that role.”
3. Annie performed in The Vagina Monologues.
“I was performing the researched section that is specific to each location, so I had to research violence against women in Ottawa and shelters for women in Ottawa,” she says. “That was sobering and important work.”
4. Annie loves mountains.
“I’ve lived in Lake Louise, Vancouver, the Laurentians and worked for a number of years at the Banff Centre for the Arts,” she says. In fact, Annie Hillis met her husband at the Banff Centre. “He was a visiting artist who hung around the office until I started dating him,” she tells us with her famous smile and infectious laugh.
5. When Annie needs to walk somewhere in the neighbourhood in a hurry, she takes Scott Street.
“I’ve been so grateful and touched by the response to my leaving the WWBIA,” she says. “I’ve received hundreds of emails because even established businesses need someone to be their champion.” All this appreciation, support and connection often manifests itself in walks along Wellington that can take a long time as different business owners, community builders and neighbourhood volunteers often have something they’d like to discuss with Annie Hillis whenever they see her out on the street.”
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