People of Arts: Julie Walchli

A Champion in Advancing Gender Equity

Julie Walchli is no stranger to hard work, determination, and blue-sky thinking. She is continually pushing boundaries of excellence in order to support students in taking their academic journey to the next level, all while being an inspiring leader and colleague in the Faculty of Arts. Beyond UBC, Julie was recently nominated for this year’s YWCA Women of Distinction Award for her outstanding work in the education category.

In recognition of International Women’s Day, we sat down with Julie to learn more about her career and achievements thus far.



Executive Director, Work Integrated Education and Career Initiatives

Faculty of Arts

Summary of your role:
I oversee amazing teams that help students integrate workplace learning.


What is a project or work achievement you are most proud of? Why?

I’m most proud of being the Founding Director of the Arts Co-op Program; I was hired to start the Program in Spring 1999 and was in that role until 2018. I was motivated by a desire to create workplace opportunities for Arts students related to their degrees, like students in Science, Engineering, Forestry and Business had. It has been amazing to see thousands of students go through the Program, and really gain confidence in how their Arts education can help them build meaningful careers through their experiences over multiple co-op terms.


What is your favourite book, movie, or TV show?

I’ve been really inspired by Designing Your Life (DYL) by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. Dave came to UBC in 2017 and I was one of several staff members who participated in a Master Class he gave. I then went on to do three training programs through DYL at Stanford, work that inspired the design of the Compass Arts Student Engagement Hub in Fall 2021 . It’s a really accessible book that introduces readers to Design Thinking and how it can offer a foundation for solving the wicked problem of life and career design.


What trait do you admire most in your colleagues?

I work with many amazing colleagues who are natural collaborators. I really love working as part of a team, and gain a lot of energy from working alongside others who challenge my thinking and encourage me. My career is testament to the adage “further together”—anything I’ve achieved has been because I was part of strong teams.

2024 YWCA Women of Distinction nomination

As the Executive Director for Work Integrated Education and the Founding Director of the Arts Co-op Program, Julie is committed to removing systemic barriers, conducting a significant research study to address the needs of Indigenous UBC students, leading to the hiring of the first Indigenous Co-op Coordinator in 2022. She has designed career programming for Queer and Trans Arts students and those with disabilities through the Compass Arts Student Engagement Hub. Julie chaired a team of leaders that allocated $14.5M in provincial funding for post-secondary Work Integrated Learning programs. She was also elected President of the BC Association for Co-operative Education and Work Integrated Learning (ACE-CEWIL) and the Co-operative Education and Work Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL).

Endorse Julie for the Connecting the Community Award

Each YWCA Women of Distinction nominee is eligible to win the Connecting the Community Award. The recipient is selected by public vote, and the winner chooses a YWCA cause that is important to her, donating $10,000, courtesy of Scotiabank, to the YWCA program of her choice.

Throughout her career, Julie has worked to advance gender equity by innovating workplace learning programs for UBC students, particularly those in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Creative and Performing Arts, many of whom are from equity deserving groups. She is motivated to help all students reach their full potential by designing meaningful paths through their university experiences and after graduation.

Left to right: Laurie McNeill (Associate Dean, Students) and Julie Walchli at the YWCA Nominees Reception.