SAIT's 2016 Outstanding Young Alumnus
"I have been with the Calgary Heritage Authority for the past year and a half. I have a great Board of Directors who are very supportive. It's amazing to work with passionate people who want to preserve and promote Calgary heritage. The really exciting thing is that more people are talking about heritage and its importance. As there is more growth in the city, people realize that they are losing things. I'm only 27 and I have memories of certain buildings and streetscapes that just aren't there anymore. As people get older, they have a greater appreciation for their community.
People think that native Calgarians are rare, but there's lots of us. And we grew up hearing stories from our parents and grandparents. I had two native Calgarian grandfathers, so I heard lots of stories of Crescent Heights and Bridgeland and the Beltline and how it used to be. I also heard stories of rural Alberta from my grandmothers. My appreciation for heritage came from that.
Community is very important to me, too. I've been involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary for nearly five years. And this will be my eighth Stampede as a volunteer. I tell people I volunteer in my spare time. It's not a requirement or an obligation - it's a passion to give back to my community. I have been very lucky and I want to create those opportunities for others. The satisfaction I get from volunteering keeps me going and gives me a kick in my step."
Josh Traptow, Executive Director, Calgary Heritage Authority; Vice-Chair, Agriculture Media Committee, Calgary Stampede | Administrative Information Management 2011 | Outstanding Young Alumnus 2016
2016 SAIT Outstanding Young Alumnus
This past year has been very good to Josh Traptow. First, he added executive director for the Calgary Heritage Authority (CHA) to his impressive resumé (which includes administrative positions for two Calgary city councillors and in former Alberta Premier Alison Redford's office) and then he was nominated for SAIT's Outstanding Young Alumni award — twice.
"Looking at the past winners of these awards, I'm thrilled to be among some of Calgary's giants; people who have done so much for their city," he says.
To say that Traptow is fond of his hometown — and his alma mater — is an understatement. One of his earliest memories is of having lunch with his grandmother in SAIT's cafeteria when he was around five years old. This may not mean much to some people, but as a third-generation Calgarian who's passionate about SAIT and is committed to preserving this city's heritage, this memory is telling.
"Calgary is my home and it means a lot to me. It's given me everything I've gotten in my life so far," he says. "Being able to give back to this city and save its heritage is the coolest thing I get to do."
Through his work at CHA, Traptow and a voluntary advisory board advise City Council on all matters related to Calgary's heritage, in hopes of recognizing and preserving the city's history for generations to come.
However, even in his downtime Traptow can be found working to improve the city by volunteering on SAIT industry panels and with a variety of non-profit organizations, including the Calgary Stampede, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary, and United Way of Calgary and Area.
"When people ask me what I do in my spare time, I tell them that I volunteer. It's just what I do."
What is your proudest professional moment to date?
"I was working for the City during the floods in 2013 and I was called up to volunteer at the evacuation centre at Southland Leisure Centre. Then I helped with recovery efforts in Ward 8. We supported Roxboro, Mission, Elbow Park, Cliff Bungalow - all of those hardest-hit communities, and having the opportunity to work with Calgary's frontline staff, whether they were police or firefighters or regular City employees who dropped what they were doing to work at the evacuation centre — that was my proudest career accomplishment because I got to see the passion that public
servants have for keeping Calgarians safe, and ultimately for rebuilding what was destroyed by the flood."
How has your SAIT education impacted your career?
"It was a building block for me, and it was also great having the support of my instructors to push me to follow my passion."
What's your advice for beginning students in your field?
"Anything you want to do, you can do — it just takes time and hard work. But it's that time and hard work that make it worthwhile at the end of the day because you are then able to do something that you love and enjoy. And I think that's the most important part — doing something that you enjoy."
Written by Giselle Wedemire (JA '13)
Photo by George Webber