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, one of Canada’s leading community foundations and a Toronto city-building institution. Ms. Avery has built a 19-year career as a high energy fundraiser and passionate communicator. Prior to joining the Foundation, she was the Chief Development Officer at UNICEF Canada for 8 years. There, Sharon led a pivotal fundraising campaign recruiting women philanthropists across Canada to embark on a four-year educational journey on maternal, newborn and child health in the developing world. Sharon has also held senior roles at SickKids Foundation, Save the Children Canada and Tim Horton Children's Foundation. She is a dynamic public speaker on a mission to bring philanthropy to the task of building a more resilient Toronto.

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 is President & CEO of Plan International Canada, one of Canada’s largest charities working in over 70 countries to help children, especially girls, realize their rights. Caroline is well respected for being a champion of innovation and is credited with launching ground-breaking and award-winning campaigns that have engaged Canadians on some of the world’s toughest issues. In 2017, Caroline was named Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the trailblazer category.  Caroline has held several senior executive positions over the years, more recently as Senior Vice-President, Marketing & Engagement at World Vision Canada where she was responsible for raising $270 million annually. In addition to serving as President of the GTA chapter of AFP, Caroline is serves on the Boards of the Humanitarian Coalition and the Canadian Partnership for Children and Women’s Health (CANWACH).

Jill Zelmanovits

CEO and Keynote Listener

Girl Guides of Canada

Jill Zelmanovits is the CEO and Keynote Listener at Girl Guides of Canada. In her role as lead girl empowerer, she passionately believes in the potential of girls across Canada to discover who they are to become everything they want to be. Zelmanovits has spent over fifteen years in not-for-profit leadership, including serving as trustee on the World Board of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girls Scouts (WAGGGS) with responsibility for growth, advocacy change and engagement supporting girls around the world. Prior to her role at Girl Guides of Canada, Zelmanovits was a commercial litigator at a Bay Street law firm before working for Legal Aid Ontario at a number of community legal clinics. Jill is also a long standing member of Girl Guides of Canada and mother to a current Girl Guide.