Director of Security and Crisis Management,
Latin Teacher, Coach at The Derryfield School
Birthplace: Livingston, N.J.
High school: The Derryfield School
College/post grad degrees: B.A. in Classics from Skidmore College; M.S. in Criminal Justice with a concentration in the Analysis of Criminal Behavior from the University of Cincinnati
What is the best career advice you ever received?
The best career advice I have ever received was to “work smarter, not harder.” Not only does this apply to my work in the classroom, but also to my work in the realm of safety. Creativity and pragmatism are the keys to my success in both Latin and crisis management. I am tasked daily with making Latin lessons accessible and exciting for middle schoolers (ha!) and I pride myself on bringing cutting-edge, thoughtful, no-nonsense solutions to the safety table.
What motivates you to give back to your community?
As it did for the global community, 9/11 had a profound impact on my life. I began an almost feverish quest for answers about safety, security, criminal and victim psychology and human behavior. I read a book called “The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – and Why,” by Amanda Ripley. This book was a game changer. It forced me to think proactively about my own safety and the safety of those for whom I care. I saw an amazing opportunity to serve not only my school community, but also the greater community, in terms of safety. I adore my students and colleagues and I really feel passionate about preserving their welfare. I want them to be able to learn and thrive in a safe environment and I want everyone to feel empowered to take control of his/her own safety. I have formed working partnerships with local police and emergency services, the fire department, Southern New Hampshire University, transportation companies, and city officials, and I am in constant pursuit of knowledge and skill-acquisition that will allow me to bring the most innovative safety and security practices to my workplace and to the community at large.
What advice would you give to your 22-year-old self?
I would tell my 22-year-old self to be less frantic about figuring out what to do with my life. It sounds pretty cliché, but I have found that by pursuing my outside interests, I have managed to carve out a niche within a profession that I truly enjoy. I remember being concerned about my career trajectory at the end of my college years, as I did not yet see the potential for turning one’s passion into a vocation. I would have encouraged 22-year-old Gillian to delve more deeply into her passion for safety and security at that juncture.
What would you like to be doing when you’re 40?
By 40, I will have fully established my safety and security consulting business (Pax Mentis), assisting other schools and businesses in establishing customized security plans (and training) to best serve their people and facilities. My ultimate goal is to share my expertise with those seeking direction and focus, and to offer ‘peace of mind’ when it comes to crisis management in my community.
Volunteer activities: I volunteer with the Southern New Hampshire Special Olympics every winter, and I take my seventh-grade advisory to serve at New Horizons for New Hampshire on a regular basis.
Last major achievement: I received a National Safety Council “40-Under-40 Rising Stars of Safety” award in Atlanta, Ga.