Heather Young

Heather Young
Heather Young
Vice President for Communication & Public Relations
2020 Master of Business Administration Degree (MBA), Royal Roads University, Canada
2006 Master of Publishing Degree (MPUB), Simon Fraser University, Canada
2002 Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology (BA), McGill University, Canada


Heather Young is a seasoned and purpose-driven communications professional. With 15 years of experience in the field, her expertise spans corporate communications, public relations (PR), media relations, marketing, public affairs, community relations, corporate social responsibility (CSR), crisis communications, internal engagement, and events. Prior to arriving at OIST, she drove innovation by advancing communications for academic-industry collaborations across Canada and with international partners. Before that, she held leadership positions at a Canadian health and safety agency and at the Special Olympics. 

Creating and implementing best-in-class communications requires a strong team working in alignment toward this goal. This principle is the foundation of Heather’s work, as evidenced by her professional career and supported with international recognition. But excellence does not “just happen.” Successful teams must connect strategy and operations with purpose and integrity. In pursuit of these aims, Heather’s teams have been recognized with awards and accolades from the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), PR News, and the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS).

Now at OIST, Heather leads an international and dynamic team who ensure the story of this pioneering graduate university—a catalyst for world-class research, education, and innovation located on the island of Okinawa—is known around the globe.

Related Experience

2014–21 Director, Communications, Mitacs
2010–14 Manager, Public Affairs, WorkSafeBC
2008–10 Marketing-Communications Officer, WorkSafeBC
2006–08 Manager, Communications, Special Olympics BC
2000–07 Various roles, Feather Books and Granville Island Publishing


2017–Present Lights On Fund, Co-Founder and Executive Director
2013–Present International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), Award Evaluator
2012–Present Special Olympics, Swim Coach and Mission Staff


2020 Crisis Communications Management Certificate, Institute for Crisis Management, USA
2013 Strategic Communication Management Certificate, Ithaca College, USA
2012 Foundations of Effective Management & Leadership Certificate, Justice Institute of BC, Canada