Portrait | Tiffany Gooch
Tiffany has an instantly likeable presence. She welcomed me upstairs to her beautiful Parkdale apartment and we instantly starting talking about everything from our music tastes (we both love The Internet) and neighbourhoods we’ve lived in (her, The Junction, and I, Kensington). I’ll attribute her easy conversational personality mainly to her forward-facing role in politics and government relations, specifically crisis communications (a role that wouldn’t exactly bode well with anxious types). But this relaxing yet engaging demeanour is also a product of her upbringing spent singing in gospel choir, a past-time which translated itself nicely into her side hustle in adulthood as an R&B singer.
“One thing I learned in university is: "a person is a person is a person’.” In crediting her experience at University of Windsor, a smaller university toeing the border of Detroit, Tiffany’s explained that her involvement in student government and other extra curricular activities have made a big impact in how she operates within politics today. “I was constantly in spaces where people had 10 degrees or millions and millions of dollars, tonnes of power, or were from different places, but being able to just approach everybody the same way, that changed everything. I was never intimidated by a person.” Now having worked in multiple different political offices with many different ministers, Tiffany can see how those experiences at University of Windsor fostered a her determined confidence. “Because it was such a small school I had the freedom. I would see something and think that was something I wanted to get involved in and give it a try. It just meant that there were so many more opportunities so if you had an interest in anything there was just wasn’t a tonne of competition to be able to go and do it.” And after her time spent at University of Windsor, when faced with decision to either go to law school in England or accept a job in politics and she ended up choosing the latter. “I decided Law and the legal system is going to be the same for so many years, it doesn’t actually really change. But politics is just this evolving thing that if you can get in at the right time you can make amazing connections and really change your life.”
"Find the people we have overlooked before."
And change it did. Tiffany’s first job in politics out of university was as Executive Director of the Ontario Young Liberals party, an influential role that allowed her to instigate change within the party itself. “I planned conferences and went on campuses to recruit young people into party politics. I was trying to focus on diversity and trying to encourage more young people, young women, and young women of colour to get involved. I was then able to sort of promote [these young people] onto campaigns and into offices that ran internship programs.” And though just coming up herself, this investment in mentorship has been a reoccurring theme throughout her life. “I think we are all always both [a mentee and a mentor], that's the ‘lift as you climb’ piece. So as much I am always gathering from people I still give back.” Especially within politics this is type of role is one that Tiffany finds as crucially important. “Even if the institution isn’t creating a training program to help you succeed, cause it is a kind of sink or swim [situation] and if you sink we’ll find someone to replace you, I’ve really loved coming in and helping young people when they start a new role, helping them understand what they’re supposed to be doing, even if its not my job to do so.” After Ontario Young Liberals Tiffany moved to work in the Premier’s office and was responsible for the internship program there. “'800 applicants, find 40 and we’re going to place them.' Then boss turned to me and said 'Find the Tiffany Gooch’s. Find the people we have overlooked before.'” A responsibility that she took seriously because, as opposed to law where three new grads will come in each year, she had the opportunity to make a serious impact on the lives of 40 young people. “The fact that I was running this meant that I was influencing this influx and now I’ve seen these people [that I brought in for the internship] and they are now Senior Directors in different minister’s offices and doing big things. So those small decisions impact everything.” Though not an easy task, she explained honestly how that process went for her:
“I do remember when I was going through the resumes if I could tell there was someone of colour or woman I would put them to an interview track faster. I wanted to meet them and get to know them a little bit better. Some of those worked out some of them didn’t [because] it was very political decision too. Lots of other different things are taken into account. Political experience is very important too. But do think I had a bias as I was going through. And there were some people that were very upset with me afterwards. There was one guy who was a politician’s son had never not gotten something he wanted ever in his life and just didn’t get in. He was drunk at a party later and was like “Why didn’t you choose me for this! How did so and so get it!” and I just said ‘Other people need these opportunities, you’re going to do well regardless.’ For these people we need to open the door and get them in, and that’s it. Our success is in getting more people in.”
"I think if you had women and you add diversity to any decision making body and you have a better decision making body at the end of the day.”
Simply put, bringing more different people together to make a decision makes that decision better for more people. And Tiffany has seen those repercussions in her own personal experience and in a broader context. “There are definitely moments in politics where I’ve known and I’ve understood why I needed to be in the room because just being there has changed attitudes and decisions. I think if you had women and you add diversity to any decision making body and you have a better decision making body at the end of the day.”
Moving forward into her career Tiffany can see herself running for office. “That’s very far end goal. I want a family and all sorts of other things too. And I’m also trying not to plan my life in such a way that I’m making the assumption that politics would happen.” She also recognizes that she needs to experience a wider variety of industries before stepping into that role in order to have a broader scope of understanding in her expertise than just political offices. “I always think that if I wanted to run, I wanted to be the type of person I would vote for and the type of person I would vote for has different experiences and understands different types of pressures and can take different things into account when making decisions.”