Philanthropy Awards

2019 Award Recipients

TORONTO, ON (September 27, 2019) — The AFP Philanthropy Awards Selection Committee, AFP Greater Toronto Chapter is very pleased to announce your 2019 award recipients.

“On behalf of all us at the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter, congratulations to the 2019 honourees. They are an extraordinary group of people who have made truly catalytic contributions to the field of philanthropy and most importantly the communities we serve”, said Caroline Riseboro, President of AFP Greater Toronto Chapter and Chair of the Philanthropy Awards Selection Committee.

The 2019 honourees are:

As Ms. Riseboro said, “This year’s recipients, through their philanthropy, volunteerism and vision, have improved the quality of life for millions of Canadians. Not one part of our community has gone untouched by their passion and generosity. I am thrilled to celebrate them with them, their loved ones and our AFP community on November 27.”

The 2019 recipients will be honoured at the Philanthropy Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, November 27th from 12:30-2:30pm at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North Building, as part of Congress 2019, the Greater Toronto Chapter’s annual conference.

About the Awards
AFP Greater Toronto Chapter has honoured leadership in philanthropy through its annual awards program since 1995. This year’s group of extraordinary recipients will join a long list of generous Canadians. These awards celebrate the outstanding contribution of time, leadership and financial support of a special group of Canadians who set new benchmarks of excellence in the acts of giving and volunteering.

About the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter
The AFP Greater Toronto Chapter is a recognised leader in promoting philanthropy and providing education, training and best practices for those in the fundraising profession. With more than 1200 members, the Greater Toronto Chapter is the largest of the more than 240 AFP chapters throughout the world.

Outstanding Philanthropists:
Michael & Sonja Koerner

For nearly half a century, Michael and Sonja Koerner have brought insightful leadership and a strategic, entrepreneurial approach to philanthropy. Their generous support of the arts, healthcare, and education sectors has made a significant and lasting impact locally, nationally and globally.

Their lead gift to The Royal Conservatory of Music’s (RCM) Building National Dreams campaign helped to reinvigorate the organization’s Bloor Street facilities and build the iconic Koerner Hall. Michael, who was named the RCM’s first chancellor, and Sonja then helped launch the Resounding! Campaign in 2017 with another significant gift in support of Performing Arts and the RCM’s Glenn Gould School. At the Art Gallery of Ontario, their generous gift helped to expand and revitalize the gallery as a leading Canadian cultural institution. They also supported a significant renewal project at the Museum of Anthropology, a research and teaching museum at University of British Columbia.

With a strong desire to stimulate scientific progress, their philanthropy has funded research at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) where they established the first Koerner New Scientist to study mechanisms of risk for mental illness. They have contributed generously to neurological research programs at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health at the University of British Columbia and spearheaded the Sonja N. Koerner Hearing Regeneration Laboratory at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Research Institute.

Always highly involved in the causes they support with a strategic and entrepreneurial mindset, Michael and Sonja inspire organizations to identify new ways to better deliver on their mission. As donors and senior volunteers at organizations like The Banff Centre, York University, the TSO, the Bata Shoe Museum, New Music Concerts, the Ontario Arts Council and The Shaw Festival, Michael and Sonja have empowered organizations to attract the right combination of stakeholders— donors, volunteers, specialists in the field— to maximize the impact of their giving and enable a fiscally sustainable environment.

It is their exceptional civic-mindedness, keen business acumen, practical approach to giving, and lifelong commitment to the betterment of society that make Michael and Sonja Koerner the embodiment of transformational philanthropy.

Outstanding Volunteer:
Laura Dottori-Attanasio

Laura Dottori-Attanasio is an exemplary volunteer whose hard work, passion and commitment have made her a true champion of the causes she supports. As Chief Risk Officer at CIBC, and inductee of the Women’s Executive Network’s (WEN) Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada Hall of Fame, Laura is a well-respected leader, role model and mentor. The impact of her volunteerism has contributed to the advancement of various organizations’ missions and fundraising goals.

At Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada, Laura spearheaded the Foundation’s $60 million campaign as Chair, the largest fundraising campaign in organizational history. Because of Laura’s dedication, she opened the door for a number of million dollar+ transformational partnerships with CIBC Children’s Foundation, Element Fleet Management, and TELUS – widening the reach of the Foundation on a national scale and improving the lives of even more children and youth involved in the child welfare system.

Laura is also largely responsible for helping to get a successful $10 million capital campaign for the Centennial Infant and Child Centre Foundation off the ground. With a personal connection to the cause, Laura was critical in developing a new case for support and launching an early fundraising event. From the event alone, Laura raised over $80,000 personally, and established a number of positive connections with those in attendance who are now continued supporters of the organization.

Under her leadership as Major and Individual Giving (MIG) Chair at United Way Greater Toronto, Laura has also helped to raise over $37 million – representing approximately 30% of the organization’s overall fundraising dollars and resulting in a 100% retention rate of donors among her fellow MIG Cabinet members.

Despite having a demanding professional life and being a busy mother of four, Laura always finds time to give back through her own personal philanthropy, time and talent.  Her commitment to the causes she believes in and her leadership involvement make her an inspiring charitable sector advocate.

Outstanding Corporation:

Sobeys is a cherished partner of non-profits supporting nutrition education and access to healthy food across the country. Through their generous philanthropic donations and in-kind contributions, Sobeys teammates create impactful, positive change.

In 2016, Sobeys became a Platinum-level national partner of Special Olympics Canada (SOC) and has contributed more than $3.8 million to date in financial and in-kind support. Sobeys has helped to promote the abilities of individuals with intellectual disabilities which includes an award-winning nutrition series for athletes, coaches and caregivers. Each June, Sobeys and its family of stores holds a national in-store check-stand fundraising campaign, raising more than $700,000 – in just ten days – to help support over 6,000 community programs serving more than 47,000 athletes across the country. Their passion for the movement extends across their operations as a proud employer of Special Olympics athletes, promoting a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Annually, Sobeys contributes more than $11 million to communities across Canada. In addition to their partnership with SOC and thousands of community groups, Sobeys is a strong supporter of several organizations in Toronto. Their partnership with SickKids Hospital Foundation includes a $1 million commitment to the VS Limits Campaign, and generous in-kind donations and volunteer support at their GetLoud march event. Together with Jays Care Foundation, Sobeys is ensuring more kids living with cognitive and physical disabilities have the chance to learn about nutrition education and core life skills through Challenger Baseball. Since 2002, Sobeys has also been a proud partner of Daily Bread, providing food and funds for their 135 member agencies.

Sobeys is an inspiring example of a corporation that truly gives back by building a culture of philanthropy, inclusivity and education.

Outstanding Foundation:
The Laidlaw Foundation

In 2019, Laidlaw Foundation marks its 70th anniversary celebrating its progressive philanthropic legacy that includes supporting more than 2,100 youth-led and youth-serving projects and initiatives with grants totalling over $44.4 million.

Laidlaw is proud to be a leader of youth-centred round tables and a supporter of the collective impact approach by working alongside partners committed to positive systems change. The Foundation has made strong commitments to elevate Indigenous youth interests, building on strategies that Indigenous youth and Indigenous communities identify as meaningful.

In 2018 alone, the Foundation awarded 63 grants totalling more than $2 million to support community programming as well as a micro-grants program branded as Pop-Ups to engage youth-organizing in provincial and municipal elections and disability justice. Laidlaw also supported the Yellowhead Institute’s Red Paper Project – Restitution and First Nation Self-Determination. Yellowhead’s community-led research project explores issues of land and water jurisdiction, encouraging youth leadership at the Indigenous-led think tank, led by Hayden King, and based in the Faculty of Arts at Ryerson University. The Foundation’s contribution to this program has lifted up and engaged Indigenous youth to co-create a week-long Freedom School that includes land-based learning and building solidarity among young emerging First Nation leaders.

Through strategic work, the Foundation has become an exemplar philanthropic leader. The Foundation’s granting structure reflects its inclusive approach to prioritizing Black and Indigenous youth-led initiatives, supporting young people to have agency over their work. Heading boldly into 2020, Laidlaw is elevating the priorities and voices of youth with lived experience in the justice, education and child welfare systems to achieve their full potential by putting their aspirations at the forefront of its grant-making and leadership activities.

Mo Davies Small Organization for Excellence in Fundraising:
Homes First Foundation

Homes First Foundation supports the goals, programs and services of Homes First Society – an organization that works tirelessly to break the cycle of homelessness in Toronto. With homelessness reaching an epidemic high of approximately 8,900 people affected in the city, Homes First Society houses close to one-tenth of this population.

Funds raised by the Foundation not only directly support efforts to keep housing space available, but also support enriching the quality of life of residents through engaging programs and activities. This includes Wanda’s Arts Therapy & Awards Programs – initiatives that encourage residents’ healing and mental well-being through art and creative expression. Funds raised have also created more opportunities for residents to get engaged in the community by acting as volunteers at Foundation events. With the believe that everyone needs a home, their work demonstrates that with the right supports, it is possible for everyone – even those with severe mental health, addiction or substance abuse problems – to heal and to live happily maintaining long-term housing.

The Foundation’s goal is to engage philanthropy by advocating for a housing-first approach – demonstrating the immediate need for solutions to the housing crisis by putting people first. In 2019, with 19 buildings across 9 different Toronto neighbourhoods, and by serving over 400,000 meals, placing over 6,000 referrals to community partners, health care providers and support networks, Homes First helped to save lives, to create hope and opportunity for hundreds affected by homelessness. This was made possible by the support of caring, engaged donors who continued to increase their individual average gifts, who continued to give online and at fundraising events, and by donors and community supporters who gave over 3,000 hours of their own volunteer time.

Since 2015, The Homes First Foundation has successfully raised over $2.45 million towards ending homelessness and continues to leverage this success to build effective housing and community partnerships as well as lead more donor-centric programs and communication initiatives. Through the Foundation’s work, Homes First has been and continues to be successful in making a huge community impact – changing lives by offering shelter, safety, security, a sense of hope and belonging to those most vulnerable.

Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy:
Jasmine de Pencier & Jett Jardeleza-Toole

With a shared love of animals and running, friends Jasmine de Pencier and Jett Jardeleza-Toole, at the young age of 10 years old, decided to give back to their community by organizing Kids’ Run for Nature – an annual run to raise funds for the World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF-Canada). Having both participated in other charity events, the girls decided to start their own after learning about different wildlife in school and being concerned about endangered species in Canada.

Their concern touched their parents, who supported them in organizing the first-ever Kids’ Run for Nature event in their local neighbourhood. With WWF-Canada providing background support, Parents Kelly Szandter (Jasmine’s mother) and Julie Toole (Jett’s mother) helped bring the girls’ vision for the event to life by securing a local park permit, engaging local sponsors and helping them to get an event website up and running.

The girls’ shared passion for the cause quickly inspired others in the community to get involved leading to their first event in 2015 selling out with over 200 runners participating, raising a total of over $6,000 for WWF-Canada. This success led to WWF-Canada officially adopting the event as one of its signature fundraising programs in 2017. Five years later, the event has grown to take place in over 25 locations across the country, engaging over 6,500 young runners and raising a total of $400,000 for WWF-Canada conservation programs. Jasmine and Jett are two environmentalists who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and fundraising skills, inspiring volunteerism and people of all ages across the country to make a difference.

Outstanding Fundraising Professional:
Ken Mayhew

Ken Mayhew’s career has left an indelible mark on the non-profit sector in Canada; on fundraising professionals through his ongoing mentorship and on organizations he has led and inspired to impact the world through fundraising.

As President and CEO of the William Osler Health System Foundation (Osler Foundation), Ken is proud to work alongside volunteers and staff to rally the community to achieve its successful $100 million campaign. A true believer in the strength of diversity, Ken’s leadership has nurtured fundraising programs that are reflective of and meaningful to the diverse communities Osler serves. Ken also believes that giving begins at home and has funnelled this belief into building a strong culture of philanthropy within Osler.

Prior to Osler Foundation, Ken dedicated his career to supporting fundraising and communications efforts at the MS Society. During his 20+ year tenure, Ken’s incredible team led a number of provincial cabinets across Canada as part of the organization’s first-ever and highly successful endMS campaign. endMS, together with the nation-wide roll-out of the MS Walks and MS Bike Tours, helped create a wave of momentum across the country in support of Canadians living with MS.

Ken is also an active volunteer, taking on leadership roles across many non-profits and acting as an AFP thought-leader, mentor and ambassador. Ken served as President of the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter Board of Directors, supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives, and later acted as a lead for AFP Canada’s IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) working group. Ken continues to demonstrate his commitment to the sector and to AFP as Chair of the AFP Canada Communications Committee.

Ken deeply believes that fundraisers can and do make the world a better place. Ken’s tireless volunteerism, mentorship and leadership make him an inspiring and influential change-maker and an outstanding fundraising professional.