December 15, 2011
Sarah Willis
Sarah Willis

Editorial Director

What is your job description at LO?

As editorial director, my main responsibility is the production of Landscape Trades. As a member of the communications department at LO, I am part of a team that works together to produce all the publications, newsletters and consumer pieces put out by the association to support the work that our
members do.

What is your background before coming to LO, and when did you begin work at LO?

My background is in horticulture. I am an alumnus of the University of Guelph and the Niagara Parks Commission School of Horticulture. My first job after graduation was as a gardener at the Royal Botanical Gardens. When I was laid off in winter, I responded to an ad in Horticulture Review for a writer and Rita Weerdenburg hired me immediately. In 1991, Landscape Ontario bought Horticulture Review, so I’ve just passed my 20-year anniversary with the association.

When not at work, where can you be found?

My husband and I are just getting used to being empty nesters, so are starting to reinvent our lives together after living for years at the dojo and hockey arenas with our three kids. As our children leave for school, we are gradually replacing them with large dogs, so we spend a lot of time hiking with them. I enjoy kayaking on quiet rivers, and am a knitter and beginning quilter. I also took up hockey a few years ago, so am having a great time on the ice after cheering from the stands for so long. Also, my family is part-owner of a garden centre in Oakville, so in my spare time in the spring, I can be found helping out in the sales yard.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a writer. When I was little, my father built me a Wendy House (Google it), and I spent hours and hours there, writing and illustrating my own magazines—which I would
distribute to friends.

What inspires you during your time at LO?

As the final instalment after two years of LO staff profiles, it’s become a cliché, but I really am inspired by the creativity, entrepreneurial spirit and generosity of our members. I am fortunate to have chosen to work in such a phenomenal industry.

Name your all-time favourite movie, musical group and TV show.

The movie I can watch again and again is The Shawshank Redemption. I have varied musical tastes, but would have to go back to my 70s roots with Elton John or The Who as my all-time picks; and pretty much any gritty series on HBO is my favourite TV show at the time—Deadwood, Rome, Band of Brothers, etc.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

While I enjoy visiting European countries, some day I hope to go to the Pacific Ocean and see the Galapagos, Polynesian Islands, and end up in New Zealand.

Tell us one thing about you that few of your colleagues know about you.

When we were young, my brother and I were discouraged from listening to rock and pop music at home. The household record collection featured classical music, jazz and show tunes. As a result, we are both still able to sing our way through the scores of all the great original Broadway shows — but rarely do!