This panel brings together three fundraising professionals who have found themselves in senior leadership roles at a relatively young age (30-45 ish). Join us for a thought-provoking conversation as they share how they mapped their career trajectory, barriers and challenges faced, and the opportunities they took advantage of - earned, forged or bestowed - that helped them get to where they are today. We’ll explore their leadership styles, their big ideas, and how they’re working to change our sector.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Explore different ways to lead organizations and create change

  2. Learn from three different careers how to craft a career path of your own

  3. For an early to mid-career fundraiser, learn how others have grown professionally and created leadership opportunities

  4. For senior leaders, explore how you can hone the talents of your staff and develop their leadership capacity

Aneil Gokhale

Director, Philanthropy

Toronto Foundation

Aneil Gokhale is passionate about the intersection of philanthropy and community. Increasingly motivated by equity and social justice, he is deeply focused on ensuring that philanthropic resources are directed where they are needed most.

He is currently Director, Philanthropy at Toronto Foundation where he is responsible for the development and management of the new business portfolio. His role is focused on helping individuals, families, professional advisors, companies and other organizations engage in strategic philanthropy. In 2018, Aneil spearheaded the successful creation and launch of Vision 2020, a new program developed to attract and inspire the next generation of philanthropists. The program successfully engaged 115 millennials and gen-xers in a “Philanthropic MBA cohort” that provided a learning journey and enabled them all to create endowments to support city building philanthropy. Building on the success of the Vision 2020 program, Vision Next launched in January 2020 introducing 100 new visionaries to the next generation of philanthropy.

Aneil has been with Toronto Foundation for 8.5 years and before that, he worked at United Way Toronto for 5 years and in the private sector, with GE Healthcare in Medical Sales for 4 years.

Aneil is the Toronto City Ambassador for NEXUS, a global community founded to bridge communities of wealth and social entrepreneurship. He also serves on the Board of the Give Foundation, a tech startup in the philanthropy ecosystem. He is also a member of the Estate Planning Council in Toronto. Previously, Aneil volunteered with the Canadian Association of Gift Planners (CAGP) GTA Roundtable and National Conference education committee. He has been a mentor with CAGP, Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Inclusive Giving and Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC).

In his personal life, Aneil is a husband and father of two young children who loves spending quality family time exploring every corner of Toronto and cheering on his beloved Raptors and Blue Jays.

Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah

Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity

Debbie is a Black feminist with over 8 years of local and international advocacy experience in a variety of roles ranging from programming and counselling to policy analysis and project management. She is the new Executive Director at the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity (CCGSD). She has had the pleasure of bridging her passion for social justice with international development at
Oxfam Canada and volunteering with feminist organizations like the Ottawa Dyke March, Harmony House Women’s Shelter, and Planned Parenthood Ottawa. When Debbie isn't yelling into a megaphone at protests or organizing events, she's probably on a field somewhere playing rugby. Or baking a cake.

Holly Wagg, MA, CFRE

Partner & CEO

Good Works

Holly Wagg, CFRE is a Partner and CEO and Chief Fundraising Architect at Good Works. She’s the co-author of You Can’t Take It With You: The Art and Science of Legacy Fundraising (the 2nd edition of Iceberg Philanthropy), the go-to book on planned giving that shows fundraisers how very ordinary donors make extraordinary gifts to charity in their wills. Through her legacy, digital, and direct mail fundraising, Holly has had the privilege to work with clients like WWF Canada, Kids Help Phone, Nature Conservancy of Canada, CARE Canada, Ontario SPCA, SOS Children’s Villages Canada, and the Ottawa Hospital Foundation.

Holly co-founded the Ten Oaks Project in 2004, for which she was honoured with a lifetime achievement award in the queer community before she cracked 30. She’s a widowed, and re-married, mother of six (two adopted, one bio and three step children) who does an abundance of yoga, CrossFit, hiking, and eats of all the ice cream to stay grounded.

Heather Wilson

Executive Director

Child and Nature Alliance for Canada

Heather is a white settler queer woman with a passion for outdoor play, nature, and social justice. As a student Heather moved from the UK (where they grew up) to the land now known as Canada.
Heather is grateful to be a guest on the unceded and unsurrendered traditional Lands of the Algonquin Anishinaabe people in Ottawa where their Jamaican-British-Canadian family lives, works, roams, and plays.

Heather has over 20 years experience in the charitable sector with extensive experience in building direct giving, digital engagement, and monthly giving programs. After a two-year hiatus in Jamaica with their family Heather returned to Canada in 2017 to work with non profit organizations to develop sustainable social enterprise models. Now the Executive Director of the Child & Nature Alliance of Canada, Heather follows the lead nature provides empowering others to thrive.

Heather enjoys drinking coffee direct from their family farm in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains, hiking with their partner, playing tennis with their son, and dragging their very stubborn westie, Miffy, for walks.