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Staying on Top of Your Game: an interview with Danielle Robinson of the Ottawa Senators Foundation

24 Mar

Just recently, I had the chance to meet Danielle Robinson, president of the Ottawa Senators Foundation at the Women’s Business Network event Hockey and Heels. There, Danielle spoke with us about techniques and tips she uses to stay on top of her game. It was while chatting with Danielle that I realized what a perfect fit her ideas would be here on Sister Leadership.

Robinson 3631 By Michelle Valberg, Valberg Imaging

Danielle has worked with the Ottawa Senators Foundation for the past nine years of her career. She arrived with a passion for charity and giving forward, but with almost no knowledge of the sport of hockey! Through the support of her work community, she has been able to help connect the Ottawa community, crowds and causes to one another for massive impact. In this discussion, we learn how she counters adversity in what is an emotionally challenging field of work.

From a SQ perspective, countering adversity means growing from setbacks and moving forward with knowledge from that experience. At times, having experienced adversity can even help us understand a situation or opportunity from a new perspective.

Danielle, as president of the Ottawa Senators Foundation, you must carry a certain amount of responsibility for both the operational pressures of the foundation, and the deep emotional challenges of the foundation’s work. What are some of the resources or strategies you draw upon in order to pass through the needle of adversity and be flexible to change?

I think the first thing I need to acknowledge is that I have an incredible team here at the Ottawa Senators Foundation. We really do collaborate well together. I also feel tremendously supported by the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club and my Board of Directors. Knowing that I have that kind of support and am empowered within my role really helps.

But further to that, on a more personal level – you are right, it is a fairly large role, it is a public role, and one I feel of great responsibility, but also of great privilege. That is something I try to keep in mind every day.

I spoke a little bit the other day, here at the club with the Women’s Business Network, about trying to start my morning with meditation. Before my feet really hit the ground I take the time to read a reflection of the day. I then sit and think about that and then try to set my intentions for the day. I also write in my gratitude journal about three things I’m grateful for in my life. I do those things every morning and then about three to four mornings a week I try to get out and exercise as well.

I haven’t always been like this in my career with the Senators. I’ve been here for nine seasons now and it certainly has been a journey of learning. It really only has been in the last two or three years that I feel like I’ve come into my own and am adopting a more balanced life.

Who are some of your mentors, Danielle? And how have they inspired you to overcome adversity?

My gut response is my late mother-in-law, Jean Robinson. She came into my life about fifteen years ago. She lived a very simple, humble life, and she raised 10 children to the best of her abilities through some tremendous set of circumstances. She also battled cancer for more than 20 years. When I met this woman, she was in the late stages of having cancer and I never heard her complain once. She was filled with such gratitude and kindness when she must have been in a tremendous amount of pain. I remember thinking that this woman had a great amount of compassion and passion for life.

So when I’m having a tough day, or facing some of the things at my work that I’m exposed to, my thoughts do often turn to my mother-in-law and her outlook in life.

In staying on top of your game, how do you manage the stress when facing obstacles in your role as CEO of the Ottawa Senators Foundation?

I’ve not always been very good at this. I feel like this is something I’ve really come into my own in the last three years. When things get stressful and I’m faced with obstacles, I generally have an emotional reaction, and sometimes not always a positive one. I’ve learned to slow down, take a breath, and just pause before reacting.

It’s about being intentional towards ‘how I want to feel about the situation?’ and asking myself ‘where is feeling negativity going to get me?’ I have learned that feeling that way is not going to provide me with any solutions or allow me to move forward quickly. When I start to get into a negative space because of stress, I just pause, acknowledge it, and then take some time to change my head-space. I generally dive into a quick meditation app on my phone and then come back to the situation once I’m in a better frame of mind.

[Some of Danielle’s apps include Simply Being, Take a Break, and Relax and Rest]

What beliefs or practices do you have about bringing spirituality to counter adversity and create such positive change?

I feel like everything that’s happening in my life is happening for a reason and that there is something larger than myself at work in my life. When I wasn’t dealing with the stress in my life as I am now, I tried to control the outcomes to everything in my life. I don’t really do that anymore. I let life happen and I deal with it. It might be cliché to say, but I try and live one day at a time. I also have faith that I’m going to be okay and recognize that I have a wonderful life

What is bigger than you, that you are part of, and that you contribute to?

When I think about this community, and our needs, and our fans and the opportunity that I’ve been given I recognize I’m a person who has the ability to bring people together for a greater purpose. I’m a person who can make connections and have relationships that can result in something bigger. I have people all around me who are coaching me and giving me the opportunity to do the kind of work that I do. My career is really rewarding and at the same time it’s humbling. I’m proud to do the things that I do in my career and that working with the Ottawa Senators has given me an opportunity and a platform to enable change for good in our community.


Sister Leadership would like to thank Danielle for her candid responses and insights into her own transformation over these past few years.

And to our readers, how have you come to counter adversity in your own life through self-awareness? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Till next week,

Self-Awareness Smart Round-Up!

3 Mar

INTRAPERSONALWe are preparing to bridge over to the upcoming Body Smart intelligence theme. As a recap of the Self-awareness Smart series, we want to honour the inspiring women and big ideas that we shared highlighted by the Spiritual Intelligence leadership competencies.


We were honoured to have the deeply personal story by Norma Goldsmith of Key to Content and her journey with bipolar disorder and diversity.


Breaking down the idea of wholeness with actionable points, Tina Cantrill asked the question: “…can a person be ‘whole’ in this demanding modern world?”


Another impressive Tina – Tina Crouse shared he vision of storytelling the leadership and trailblazing happening amongst women in social finance in this post on vocation.

Being in the moment

We shared a fantastic article from Michele Milan on being in the moment, and how that applies to business.

Problem solving

Jennifer Van NoortJennifer Van Noort was a delight to feature as she shared her approach to problem solving in the non-profit sector, and really gave meaning to her work and the impact of Healthy Women, Healthy Community. It was so good, we split it into two posts: her own story, and her charitys story.

Book launch

We celebrated the launch of my book, Tenacious Living: Choose your Adventure – in which I have contributed a chapter of being lost in the woods, and how that changed me deeply.


St Germain featured in a two-part series around chakras, starting withmy connection, and ending in a unique meditation for the third eye which helps us to open more doors to self-awareness. That creates more presence to be in the moment. When we are in the moment, we can then increase our capacity to live in a field of limitness consciousness.


We revisited a moment on Christmas Eve as my church community came together singing Silent Night, and I felt a deep sense of oneness.

Bring in the new year

As the New Year rolled in, we paused on the blog for a New Year’s breath.

Sanctify every day

We also gave you an “I am” affirmation exercise to help you shape your goals and sense of gratitude.


And we found inspiration in the words and virtuosity of Maya Angelou.

Women’s Busness Network and Women’s Executive Network

wbn panelIn the world of women’s networks, Sister Leadership was a sponsor for the WBN event, Let Go As Your Baby Grows. The evening was a hit, and you can read about that here. As well, Jennifer Flannagan of Actua gave a brilliant presentation at a WXN event on the importance of the pivot in business and life.

Countering adversity

The shooting that took place in Ottawa was truly shocking, and in countering adversity, this personal post examined how we go forward after being so invaded.

Being in the flow

In the past several months, I’ve shared with the Sister Leadership community my own journey with family care as my mother has dealt with a lung cancer diagnosis. From family politics and being knocked out of flow to

Being in the moment

unexpected miracle moments, and how


clips of empathy and love helped me when I watched them, and I shared them with you too in this three-tissue alert video.

It all started with this bridge from Logical Smart to Self-awareness Smart, and I have to say, this has been a fantastic series. Once again, thank you to everyone who contributed ideas and inspiration. We couldn’t have done this without your vulnerability in sharing stories.

Till next week!


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