Serving the Community
Story by Michael Seguin
Momentum is a powerful thing, Mia Tannous explains. And over the last five years, Mia has taken advantage of her momentum to expand her professional skills in leaps and bounds.
Mia first started working for the Bulimia and Anorexia Nervosa Association (BANA) while completing her undergraduate degree back in 2006.
“I knew nothing about the organization before I started working for them,” Mia states. “It wasn’t anything I was attached to or exposed to in any way. But then the posting came up for a Coordinator of Francophone Services. It was a six-month contract meant to bring the health promotion stuff into the French school system.”
From there, Mia’s role in the organization continued to evolve. Shortly thereafter, Mia was promoted to the Interim Health Promotion Manager. Over the next 10 years, Mia helped develop numerous different programs to educate people of all ages about body image, self-esteem and proper nutrition. She also facilitated a number of healthy cooking programs for at-risk youth at Sandwich Teen Action and New Beginnings.
“Annually, we were doing around 300 presentations a year,” Mia recalls. “We wanted to take our positive message and spread it far and wide. We wanted it to be relatable to everyone. Not everyone has an eating disorder, but everyone has body image issues. So many people simply lack the education around it.”
After a decade of dedicated service, Mia left BANA in 2015 to start a consulting company, Tannous & Associates, Inc.“We focus a lot on leadership training,” Mia states. “We help companies learn how to better communicate with their teams.”
However, Mia’s commitment to serving the community has not wavered. She currently dedicates her limited free time to working a new project about human trafficking.
“Essentially, we’re trying to draw more attention to the issue,” Mia explains. “I think a lot of people think that human trafficking is not a problem that we have here. Alternatively, people think of it in terms of smuggling bodies across the border. The reality is that people are being brought to Canada and the United States under false pretenses. It’s not lawful and it’s not right.”
Mia is currently conducting research while coordinating with several key stakeholders about how to best address the problem.
In addition, Mia is a Board Member of the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation and the Chair of Oneday Dreams.
While the last five years have represented a period of tremendous growth and change for Mia, one thing that remains constant is her love for the Windsor-Essex community.
“Essex County has been a great place for me to be able to learn all these life lessons and develop my skills,” Mia states. “It’s an incredibly welcoming community. Everyone is incredibly supportive. And geographically, being five minutes from another country has been wonderful in terms of expanding who we are and what we can do. Windsor’s a great place.”
Continue reading for the original story we ran on Mia which appeared
in the Autumn 2015 Edition of Windsor Life Magazine:
Connecting With A Sisterhood Of Inspiration
Story by Karen Paton-Evans
Photography by LiquidWild Media
When #YOUbeautymoment asked Mia Tannous what beauty means to her, she appreciated that the question is not a frivolous or shallow one. During the nine years she worked at the Bulimia Anorexia Nervosa Association (BANA), Mia used to connect with people whose unhealthy perceptions of what constitutes beauty are harming and threatening their very lives.
Mia reflects, “I find beauty everywhere; you can see it, hear it, feel it. Sounds cliché, but you find what you’re looking for and I try to find something beautiful in everything. Beauty to me is subjective, defining it is almost a ridiculous notion but I think what I find most beautiful is joy and peace. When I see someone happy and content, I think wow, that’s beautiful and I can’t help but smile myself.”
Sharing the voices of Windsor-Essex women aged 40 years and younger, #YOUbeautymoment strives to support them as they define and live their truth through positive, beautiful attitudes and actions.
Encountering women with body issues was a daily experience for Mia, who until recently was the Interim Health Promotion Manager at BANA. The best advice she believes she can give is: “First things first, we all have body image issues—you are not alone! I can’t think of one person who loves each and every inch of their body all the time, and that’s okay.”
“What’s not okay is when those body image issues start taking over your life, when they inhibit you from doing things you want to do—that’s when we have a problem. It’s important to stop comparing yourself to everyone else; this is a sure-fire way to be miserable. Think about your body and all of the things it does for you, think of it as a tool rather than a decoration. Focus on being healthy, with the understanding that health comes in all shapes and sizes.”
Women with serious body issues can find help at BANA. “The team at BANA is a small but committed one. Working with the population that they do is challenging and it takes a dedicated group of people to do it well,” Mia observes. “I got inspired by their passion. I was also inspired by the people BANA serves, the clients and the community at large. Their openness to taking in new information and enhancing their lifestyles is amazing.”
Now age 31, Mia chose to enhance herself by working on her personal growth over the past two years. “I decided to continue my education and pursue my Master’s Degree, while continuing to work full time.” She has a bachelor’s degree in Developmental Psychology from the University of Windsor and now has a Master’s Degree in Leadership from the University of Guelph.
“In addition, I also completed the Leadership Windsor Essex program, both of which taught me a great deal about myself. I am proud of my ability to stretch beyond my bounds.”
That ability was nurtured early on within her family. “I was always raised to never
accept mediocrity from myself or anyone around me. They say a comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there—I believe that in order to rise to our fullest potential we need to get a bit uncomfortable,” Mia says.
For inspiration and reassurance, she looks to her role models, her parents, “who not only exemplify but encourage moving beyond the status quo.”
“I literally have a black and white photo hanging beside my computer of my mom and dad the day they opened what is now a thriving business. It keeps me motivated!” says Mia. Another source for incentive is her community. “I was born and raised in the County—Windsor was always the BIG city to me. It seemed infinite and anything seemed possible here. I try and look at it with the same wonder now as I did back then. What’s great about Windsor is that we are small enough to really embody a sense of community but big enough to make things happen. The people in Windsor and Essex County are eager to learn and engage and grow and I think that is the key to any great community. It’s allowed me to feel like I can make a difference and build upon the many successes we currently enjoy here.”
Be a good person, be the best person you can be, to yourself, to everyone around you. It’s funny, when someone compliments my appearance, I say thank you and it becomes an afterthought, but when someone compliments me on who I am as a person, I really take it to heart.”— Mia
One way Mia feels she can make a difference is through volunteerism. She is a member of the Patient and Family Advisory Committees for the Erie St Clair Regional Cancer Program and Cancer Care Ontario. “I am very passionate about bringing the patient and family voice where it can be best heard and utilized,” she says.
To those who let their lack of self-assurance sidetrack their potential, Mia says, “If you want to feel better about yourself, stop looking for something outside of you. Find your voice and use it, be assertive—that is the best way to build your confidence. There is no feeling more liberating than expressing yourself, whatever that means for you. Being confident doesn’t mean you feel certain everyone will like you or that you’ll ace whatever you’re doing, it means that even if they don’t and even if you fail—that’s okay. That doesn’t change who you are.