Born in St. Kitts, Dauna Jones-Simmonds migrated to Canada almost forty years ago and has first-hand experience navigating the roadblocks and challenges encountered by new Canadians — particularly those of colour. Today, as the President of DEJS (Diversity) Consulting, she shares her accumulated knowledge through consulting and diversity training activities, and providing mentorship and assistance for young Black women looking to advance their careers. She is currently the Chair of the Board of Directors for ACCES Employment, a past Board Member at SKETCH, and has been the only Black female member in the Rotary Club of Toronto.
Get to know how her personal and professional journey led to her becoming one of three co-authors of 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women, and a Women of Influence Luncheon panelist.
My first job ever was… a bank teller at the Royal Bank of Canada.
I chose my career path because… One was by sheer accident – Human Resources was bestowed upon me when the Labour Relations Manager walked away from negotiations and the company I was with at the time, asked me to ‘pitch’ in. As a person who never seems to know how to say ‘no’, I quickly and willingly said ‘yes’ I will help. The other career that I am now pursuing at this later stage of my life is authoring books. This came about as a result of innocent and curious conversations. With tenacity, I pursued what is now our passion – co-authoring.
My proudest accomplishment is…co-authoring my first book, 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women – it was a dream I always had and to see it come to fruition. This of course is secondary to marrying my husband and building a beautiful family.
My boldest move to date was…working in Utah while trying to raise two young kids. It was difficult but I felt that this opportunity would help me build my career and could have led to greater and better things.
I surprise people when I tell them…I am the thirteenth of 14 children.
My best advice to people starting their career is… grab whatever opportunities come your way. Be a sponge and learn as much as you can.
My best advice from a mentor was… your best weapon is getting a good education and building your network. Hold on to your strong values and principles of integrity and honesty.
I would tell my 20-year old self… keep exercising and keep learning.
My biggest setback was… having to start my career all over again when arrived in Canada. However, this was a learning experience which made me realize that nothing comes easy and that I would have to fight for what I want if I wanted to progress in life.
I overcame it by… building my knowledge about my adopted country, gaining a better understanding of the people with whom I surrounded myself and using this accumulated knowledge to my advantage.
Work/life balance is… what one wants it to be – if you enjoy life, working hard may be one’s way of balancing work and personal life. It’s what makes one happy.
The last book I read was… The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
I stay inspired by… my beautiful granddaughter – I dream about her future and the difference she can make to the world.
The future excites me because… I believe our younger generation is focused and determined. On a personal level, I will be travelling a lot more.
My next step is… to focus on strengthening my family values and writing the third edition of 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women – 2020.