Many people take time to figure out what they would like to do with their careers; others, like Gary Michalak, know exactly what they are meant to do from an early age. As a young athlete, Gary realized he wanted to use the leadership skills he developed playing multiple sports to help those around him achieve their goals. A lifelong learner, Gary has continued to fuel his passion by helping to build vibrant communities, whether through strategic planning or by using his talents to support the growth in key areas such as heritage, arts and culture.
Gary’s career in public service started in 1974 when he became the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation with the Town of Rayside-Balfour. For six years, he had the opportunity to work with both Mayor Gilles Pelland (1972-1988) and Mayor Lionel Lalonde (1988 – 2000). Afterwards, he continued to gain experience in his field, but this time in a provincial government setting as a Recreation Consultant for the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation. He helped support various communities throughout Northern Ontario through the Ministry’s leadership program. At the same time, he was also pursuing further education in public service.
He received a diploma in Recreation Leadership from Fanshawe College before attending Laurentian University.
His time spent at Laurentian, during which he earned a diploma in Public Administration (1986) with a major in Political Science, helped grow his love for working in politics and community-building. “Professor Robert (Bob) Segsworth was a positive influence on me during my time at Laurentian” he said. “He provided a great deal of enthusiasm and knowledge of municipal politics, and he was always willing to help.”
Although his time with the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation gave him perspective on how the provincial government worked, he returned to municipal affairs with Mayor Lionel Lalonde of the Town of Rayside-Balfour, this time as the Chief Administration Officer (pre-amalgamation with the City of Sudbury). He held this position for over eight years, which allowed him to work on projects such as the Healthy Community Strategy and the launch of the Youth Action Network. Both these initiatives were later adapted by the City to meet the needs of all Sudburians.
Gary now spends his time running his management consulting business, Gary J. Michalak & Associates Inc., which gives him the opportunity to provide the public service and not-for-profit sectors with professional guidance in regards to strategic visioning, community development, leadership, organizational development and team building.
Gary is also a strong advocate for Franco-Ontarian arts and culture in the Sudbury community. He is currently the Executive Director of Café-musique Productions of Rayside-Balfour. The non-profit organization was incorporated in 2010 and its goal is to promote and coordinate performing arts activities in the City of Greater Sudbury. They organize various events such as Rayside-Balfour Days, summer concerts and the Lions SuperSTARS Vocal Competition.
Gary has a lengthy resume and a big heart, and he has no plans on stopping. His mission in life is to help his friends, his family and his community meet their needs. When he is not running his consulting business, helping organize events for Café-musique Productions, working with the Azilda Lions Club, or with the Chelmsford Valley District School Alumni, he spends six months a year living in Florida with his wife to escape the sometimes-harsh Northern Ontario winters that are all too familiar to his fellow Laurentian alumni.