What does it look like to step outside of your comfort zone? Reflecting on VPFO team members’ acts of courage

VPFO team members shared their stories on February 28, 2024, as hundreds of VPFO staff gathered for our 7th annual Pink Shirt Day . Together, we celebrated this year’s theme of Acts of Courage, with a sub-theme of Brave Spaces – creating spaces where we feel comfortable being our authentic selves.  

A key theme in all the speakers’ stories was the importance of community. We need a workplace culture that supports one another to create these brave spaces where acts of courage can take place. 


Frank Laezza, Vice-President of Finance & Operations, shared a childhood story about the effects of bullying in his life and how it shaped who he is today. On the topic of courage, he encouraged the VPFO, that “it isn’t always about facing off with others… It’s about finding strength in others. Find those networks of people who can help you and support you.”  

Kevin Mo, Campus Security Supervisor from Safety & Risk Services, also relayed a childhood story about bullying and the value of his classmate’s act of courage to reach out and include him. He shared with the attendees that “the reaching out your hand for others, has brought me to working at Campus Security. We want to create a strong community and act on those values.”  

These values and need for community extend beyond Safety & Risk Services to all of the VPFO and UBC. Sam Stephens, Director of Campus Security, said “at UBC, we don’t consider ourselves an organization, we consider ourselves part of a community. It’s why I come to work every day.” 

Hear their full stories with high-quality audio via the Livestream recording of the event. 

We encourage you to reflect on Pink Shirt Day and how you can create a brave space in your area and foster community. Dr. Arig al Shaibah, Associate Vice-President of Equity & Inclusion, shared qualities that create an inclusive culture, which you can read more about on the UBC Equity & Inclusion Office website. 

Visit the VPFO Flickr album for photos from the event.  

Special thanks to the VPFO EDI Committee for putting together this event. We encourage you to join the VPFO EDI Committee and share your feedback with us through this quick survey or reach out to vpfo.edi@ubc.ca to learn more about how you can get involved.