WLU GSA announces new president and CEO Laleh Samarbakhsh

(Photo by Kate Turner)

On Oct.10 the Wilfrid Laurier University Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) announced the acclamation of their new president and CEO, Laleh Samarbakhsh. Benjamin Hesch resigned from the position on Sept. 24 due to another job offer, causing the GSA to hold an election halfway through the year-long term of presidency.

Currently, Samarbakhsh is serving as president-elect until her term begins on November 1.

One of the factors that prompted her to run for president, she said, was her familiarity with the GSA, particularly with the executive team as she was on the hiring committee last year.

“I knew that it’s a strong team and it would be very functional to take on leadership,” she explained. “Otherwise, it’s hard to come in at the middle of the term of presidency.”

Her previous experience with the GSA also includes her positions as vice president of external affairs in 2007-2008, a member of the board and vice president of finance in 2011-2012.

In her position as president-elect, Samarbakhsh is presently shadowing Hesch until her office commences.

“In my shadowing sessions with Ben I try to make sure that I understand the key projects that he has planned for the rest of the term,” she continued.

One of the main tasks of the president is to look after the orientation of new graduate students. As orientation has already passed, however, Samarbakhsh has other projects to move forward with.

Her first task is to ensure that the plans that Hesch has set in motion with the executive team are executed.

“My second task is working closely with the university’s mandates to ensure the best results for our membership,” she explained. “Focusing on the key initiatives for this academic year, starting with the president and then moving on to the departments that relate to the GSA such as student affairs and so on.”

Samarbakhsh’s last task will be to “identify and diagnose the holes for potential projects or tasks that can be done in order to improve the organization towards serving its membership.”

As for having to deal with the irregularity of entering the presidency halfway through the term, Samarbakhsh said she is not overly concerned.

“There’s no negative energy or concerns, just because I’ve already been involved and I know the executive team,” she said.

However, she is aware of the importance of ensuring continuity and a smooth transition when she resumes office.

“I think I am lucky that I am already familiar with the system and the people, which is going to help me,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it and I hope for the best.”

**Editor’s note (Oct. 20, 2012, 4:48 p.m.): This article has been updated from its original version. Leah Samarbakhsh’s name was misspelled in three paragraphs.   


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