Carving a new path in a sector takes courage, commitment and most of all, strong leadership skills. This panel will feature leaders in the fundraising sector who know how to shake things up. How did they take it upon themselves to invent new possibilities? What are the opportunities and challenges associated with innovative leadership and ground-breaking fundraising? What were their approaches when they encountered resistance and what motivated them to persevere? Learn how to be transformative and apply their advice to break down barriers.

  • What key skills do you need to develop to effectively drive change – as a fundraising and as a leader?
  • How has the fundraising profession transformed over the course of their careers?
  • Knowing when to go for it: identifying the right opportunities, understanding key factors that will support change and ensuring your risk will reap reward
  • Looking ahead: What will future leadership look like in the profession and nonprofit sector and how can emerging leaders continue to push barriers?

Sharon Avery

President & CEO

Toronto Foundation

Sharon Avery is President & CEO of Toronto Foundation. She is known as a high energy fundraiser and passionate communicator on a mission to bring philanthropy to the task of building a more resilient Toronto. Prior to joining Toronto Foundation, she served for eight years as Chief Development Officer at UNICEF Canada. Sharon is a unique fundraiser and finds creative ways to impact the communities she works in. She will be focusing on the key issues currently affecting our city and discussing ways that charities, non-profits, professional advisors corporations and Community Foundations can collaborate to break through and create sustainable change for generations to come.

Peter Dinsdale

President and CEO

YMCA Canada

Peter Dinsdale is a strategic thinker and action oriented Executive who strives to improve the world around him.  In June 2016 Peter became the President and Chief Executive Officer of YMCA Canada where he is working to create the Canada We Want through the YMCA We Need. 

Prior to joining YMCA Canada Peter lead the Assembly of First Nations as the Chief Executive Officer.  During this time Peter was central in the most challenging period of First Nation relationships in Canada in recent years.  Under National Chief Shawn Atleo, Peter co-lead a team to conceptualize, design, organize and execute the 2012 Crown-First Nation Gathering and the 2013 meeting between Prime Minister Harper and First Nation representatives which sought to forge a new Treaty relationship with Canada. 

The most challenging time at the Assembly of First Nations occurred when National Chief Atleo resigned in May 2014 and Peter, as Chief Executive Officer, functioned in an unprecedented setting with no sitting National Chief.  Peter worked with the AFN Executive to keep the AFN going while a path forward was determined to elect a new National Chief in December 2014.

While working with National Chief Bellegarde, Peter continued to lead on numerous files such as the representing the Assembly of First Nations representative on the Truth and Reconciliation All Party Committee, was central in the development and execution of the 2015 federal election strategy and worked with the AFN Executive and senior staff to advocate for an unprecedented $8.4 billion investment in First Nation issues in the 2016 federal budget among other files.

Peter holds a B.A. and M.A. from Laurentian University as well as an honorary diploma in Education from Canadore College.  Peter serves as a Governor at Carleton University.

Peter is married, with 2 children.  He is an avid hockey fan and student of politics.

Sandra Hawken

President & CEO

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation

Sandra Hawken joined the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation in 2015 as the President & CEO and has led a transformational organizational change and doubled the donor base. Holland Bloorview is Canada’s largest children’s rehabilitation hospital, and a global leader in applied research and client and family centred care. With donor support, Holland Bloorview is helping to create a world of possibilities for kids with disabilities.

Prior to joining Holland Bloorview, Sandra held senior leadership roles at Canadian Women’s Foundation, Royal LePage Shelter Foundation and Assaulted Women’s Helpline. In her 22-year career, she’s re-engineered operations and inspired high-performing teams to launch record-breaking fundraising, brand-building and engagement campaigns. Sandra has been a national media spokesperson, written a column for Huffington Post and won national and international awards for innovation in media and partnerships.

Sandra is passionate about helping the community express their values through philanthropy. She is a graduate of Queen’s University’s School of Business.

Caroline Riseboro

President & CEO

Plan International Canada

Caroline Riseboro was appointed President & CEO of Plan International Canada in January 2016.  As CEO, she is responsible for leading one of Canada’s largest international development and child-rights agencies, working with children, families, communities and governments in over 70 countries to bring about positive change.

Caroline is passionate about engaging everyday Canadians to create a better world so that every person and child can thrive.  She is considered a sector thought-leader and is a sought-after speaker and commentator.  She is well respected for being a champion of innovation and is credited with launching numerous ground-breaking and award-winning campaigns that have engaged Canadians in new ways on some of the world’s toughest issues.

Before joining Plan Canada, Caroline was Senior Vice-President, Marketing & Development at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Foundation, where she played an instrumental role in expanding CAMH’s reach among Canadians, pioneering new engagement initiatives, and helping to reduce the stigma of mental illness.  Prior to CAMH, Caroline also held several senior executive, most recently as Senior Vice-President, Marketing & Engagement at World Vision Canada where she was responsible for raising $270 million annually, stewarding 700,000 donors and oversaw a team of over 250 people. Before joining the non-profit sector, Caroline began her career in advertising and communications.

Caroline’s influence also extends into the sector through her voluntary leadership roles.  She chairs the Canadian Marketing Association’s nonprofit council, has sat on various tasks forces with Imagine Canada, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Association of Fundraising Professionals GTA chapter.  She is also chair of its government relations committee which is dedicated to promoting a more philanthropic Canada.  Caroline holds a Bachelor (honours) degree from McGill University, and is currently pursuing her Master of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at Carleton University.  She is based in Toronto, Canada.

Jill Zelmanovits

Chief Executive Officer

Girl Guides of Canada

As a longtime GGC member, Jill is committed to the Mission of the organization. She has previous GGC experience as a past Board Director and has chaired several national committees including Audit and Finance, and Governance. Jill brings international Guiding experience to her role as CEO, having served as Trustee on the World Board of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), and held positions of Chair, Membership Growth Work Group, and Chair, Advocacy Task Group. Additionally, Jill has been a member of the Membership Services Working Group, the Global Engagement Group, and the Technology Work Group. A bilingual lawyer, Jill was a commercial litigator at a Bay Street law firm before working for Legal Aid Ontario at a number of Community Legal Clinics. Most recently, she was head of the Housing Department and a Staff Lawyer at West Scarborough Community Legal Services. Working alongside volunteers and staff, Jill is inspired by the passionate commitment of Guiding's members. She is a firm believer that Guiding is what girls need to be the best they can be and is full of optimism in the strength of the organization.