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Sandra ShapiroBy MYRON LOVE

You know the saying “if you want to get something done, give the job to the busiest person you know”. Well that applies to Sandra Shapiro.


Shapiro’s day job is Concert Administrator for the University of Winnipeg’s Virtuosi Concert and Skywalk Concert and Lecture series. In addition, she also finds time to continue her long-standing ties with Shoppers Drug Mart (she is a cashier at the Tuxedo Shoppers and a cosmetician at the Mountain store). She notes that she has been working for Shoppers off and on since she was 18.
Most recently, she has taken on a new role as Volunteer Director for Pride Winnipeg.
She adds that she has been in customer service and administration in one form or another her entire working career.

One of her early working experiences – in addition to Shoppers – was scheduling commercials for the then new CKND for three years in the mid-1980s.
After a year working in Toronto for an ad agency, she returned to Winnipeg –a single mother – and, a couple of years later, enrolled at the University of Winnipeg as a mature student. She graduated in 1996 with a BA Honours in Sociology and Women’s Studies.
One of her professors at university was Harry Strub, the founder of both the Virtuosi and Skywalk series. He continues to serve as artistic director for both series.

Strub recruited Shapiro for the University of Winnipeg programs about six years after renewing acquaintances at the Shoppers In Tuxedo – she was the Cosmetics Department manager at the time.
“At first, it was only part time,” she says. “We received a grant four years ago that allows me to be working here full time.”
The Virtuosi Series, Shapiro notes, consists of nine concerts a year featuring recitals and chamber music. The concerts are held at Eckhardt-Gramatte Hall at the university, The venue seats 230 and, Shapiro says, the concerts are always sold out.
“Originally, CBC was a partner in this series and we were able to do more concerts,” Shapiro says. “We used to do 20 concerts a year. We have had to cut back also because of the weaker Canadian dollar.”
The concerts take place usually one Saturday a month at 8:00 P.M.
The Skywalk Series – in partnership with the Winnipeg Public Library – is in its 27th year. The lunch time series runs from September to December and January through March – at the Carol Shields Auditorium at the Millenium Library – with weekly lectures on Wednesdays and concerts on Thursdays.
For both programs, Shapiro is in charge of arranging the advertising, getting the tickets out and seeing to the subscriber base. She also helps with the program.
The third member of the team, she notes, is executive director Andrew Thomson.
“We have a strong team,” she says. “We each bring something different to the mix. We work well together.”

Shapiro began volunteering with Pride Winnipeg three years ago. “I really liked the people and the working environment,” she says. “So, when the Director of Volunteers resigned last year, I applied.”
Her position with Pride Winnipeg is also virtually full time. “There are a lot of email and volunteer appreciation events to plan,” she says. “We have a monthly board meeting. Then, in January, it gets really intense.”
For this year’s Pride Festival, she notes, volunteers were a little slow to respond. “We put out a call through the media and got a tremendous response.
One group that responded, she notes, were 20 members of the Winnipeg Rifles football team and their coach. The Rifles were brought to Pride Winnipeg by Rob Berkowits, currently the Director of Development and Gift Planning at the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba and, previously, executive director of Football Manitoba.
“Normally we set up for the festival on Friday and take everything down on Sunday evening,” Shapiro says. “The Rifles volunteered to take everything down. It was the best gift we could have received. By Sunday, most volunteers are exhausted.”
She adds that it is great for kids to see athletes supporting Pride.
How does Sandra Shapiro manage to juggle so many balls at once and why?
“I get bored if I am not busy,” she says.