Honorary Chairs

Awards Gala 2016


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Najla Al Zaibak
philanthropist and patron of the arts

Najla Al Zaibak is a Syrian-born Canadian philanthropist and a proud mother of three accomplished children: Omar, Leen and Jana. Born in Damascus, Syria, Najla moved with her life companion, Mohammad, and their family to Canada in 1988. Najla is a committed participant in multi-faith dialogue and bridge building among the various cultural communities of Canada. She has made a meaningful contribution to Canadian intercultural development utilizing her Arabic heritage and moderate Islamic upbringing. She has served on advisory committees at the Noor Cultural Centre and the Muslim Studies Program at Emmanuel College and is a tireless volunteer with Lifeline Syria. Najla is a passionate patron of the arts and a Founding Luminary of the Luminato Festival of Arts and Creativity.

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The Hon. Louise Arbour, CC
former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Honourable Louise Arbour is a jurist in residence at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. She sat as a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada from 1999 to 2004 and on the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Ontario. She has held senior positions at the United Nations, including High Commissioner for Human Rights, and is a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty. Madam Arbour is also a member of the Advisory Board of The Coalition for the International Criminal Court. She has received numerous honorary doctorates and awards.  Madam Arbour is a Companion of the Order of Canada, a Grand Officer of the Ordre national du Québec, a Commander of the Légion d'honneur, and she has been decorated by both Spain and Colombia.

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Salah Bachir
philanthropist, entrepreneur and patron of the arts

Salah Bachir is the President of Cineplex Media and a lifelong entrepreneur in entertainment media. He is a passionate patron of the arts with a vast collection of paintings, much of it Canadian. He has served on boards and committees of the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canadian Film Centre, the Luminato Arts Festival and the Canadian Foundation for Aids Research, to name a few. He has donated generously to a wide range of causes and been honoured for his work with the Famous People Player's Man of the Year Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Toronto Pride Gala, the Canadian Centre for Diversity's Human Relations Award and the Canadian Civil Liberties Union award for Excellence in Business. 

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Alan Broadbent, OC
Founder and Chairman of the Maytree Foundation

Alan Broadbent is Chairman and Founder of Maytree, and Chairman and CEO of Avana Capital Corporation. He co-founded and chairs the Caledon Institute of Social Policy, Tamarack – An Institute for Community Engagement, Diaspora Dialogues, and the Institute for Municipal Finance and Governance at the Munk Centre, University of Toronto. Alan is also a Director of Sustainalytics Holdings B.V., Senior Fellow and Governing Board member of Massey College, and Member of the Governors’ Council of the Toronto Public Library Foundation. He has received many honours and is a Member of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. Alan is the author of Urban Nation: Why We Need to Give Power Back to the Cities to Make Canada Strong, and co-editor of Five Good Ideas:  Practical Strategies for Non-Profit Success, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Ryerson University in 2009.

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Helen Burstyn
philanthropist, patron of the arts and civic leader

Helen has enjoyed a 35-year career in government, business, academia, broadcasting and community service. She is currently the Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Social Venture Zone at Ryerson University and the co-host of Toronto Files, a weekly public affairs program on RogersTV. The former Chair of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Helen also served as the Ontario Government’s Special Advisor on Social Enterprise and Chair of the Partnership Forum. She is a director of many non-profit organizations, including Evergreen, the Canadian Opera Company, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), the Toronto Public Library Foundation, Luminato and The Walrus Foundation. Helen is a co-founder of The Pecaut Centre for Social Impact and author of Eleven Out of Ten: The Life and Work of David Pecaut. She was a founding member of Equal Voice, Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto, and a past-president of the Canadian Club of Toronto. Helen has been honoured with the YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Community Leadership and the Ontario Citizenship Award for Volunteer Service.

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Fiona Crean
Ombudsman, Hydro One

A teacher, mediator and investigator by training, Fiona was recently appointed by the Ontario Government to be the first ombudsman of Hydro One. Previously, Fiona served as the City of Toronto's first Ombudsman and as an Assistant Deputy Minister in the Ontario Government.  She established the Ombudsman's role at York University, was Executive Director of the Ontario Ombudsman's Office and also worked for several years at the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Multilingual, Fiona has done development and good governance work for governments and community organizations in Central and South America, Eastern Europe and southern Africa. She has worked extensively in First Nations and Inuit communities in Canada.  In 2015 Fiona was honoured by the YWCA with a Woman of Distinction Award for public service.

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Caroline Codsi
business executive and award-winning civic leader

Caroline Codsi is Senior Vice-President and General Manager, Eastern Canada for Cira Medical Services.  Prior to joining Cira, She worked for several national executive career management firms in senior level positions. Caroline also has extensive mental health in the workplace experience through her work in the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) industry. Caroline sits on several boards and committees and in 2010 founded La Gouvernance au Féminin (AKA Women and Boards), a non-profit organization that encourages women to develop their leadership, advance their careers and sit on boards. She is the recipient of a Quebec Business Women Network award and the Arab Women Trophy, and was also a Finalist for the Prix Germaine Gibara – Les Mercuriades. She was recognized by Premières en Affaires as 1 of 8 “Incontournables” (influential women), as a Top 75 Canadian Immigrants by RBC, and one of the Top 20 Diversity Leading Figures by Média Mosaïque. In 2015 she received a Gender Equality Award by the United Nations Women National Committee and the WXN (Women’s Executive Network) recognized her among the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada.

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Mohamad Fakih
CEO and President of Paramount Fine Foods

Mohamad Fakih is President and CEO of Paramount Fine Foods, one of the fastest growing Middle Eastern chains.  Mohamad employs over 800 people in all his restaurants and offers a 50% discount to all EMS workers. He has become a role model for young entrepreneurs to whom he makes himself accessible as a mentorMohamad is dedicated to his business goals but even more so to giving back to the community and making a difference. He is a supporter of organizations like Cops for Cancer, Canadian Cancer Society, Make a Wish Foundation, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, among others. Mohamad's vision is for all communities to come together, embrace being Canadian and make Canada a better place for everyone.  

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The Hon. Bill Graham
Chancellor of Trinity College in the University of Toronto and former federal cabinet minister

The Hon. Bill Graham was Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre-Rosedale, then Toronto Centre, from 1993 to 2007. Prior to entering politics, he practiced law with the firm Fasken Martineau and taught in the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. For six years he was chairman of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and subsequently served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2002-2004 and Minister of National Defence from 2004-2006. In 2006, he was Leader of the Opposition and Interim Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. He is currently Chancellor of Trinity College in the University of Toronto and a member of The Bill Graham Centre Advisory Board.

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Robert Harding, OC
Past Chair of the Board of Trustees, Hospital for Sick Children

A Chartered Accountant by profession, Robert is Director, Past Chair of Brookfield Asset Management Inc.’s Global Infrastructure Advisory Board. He joined the Sick Kids Board of Trustees in 2005 and was elected Chair in June 2011. He is also Chair of the Board of Governors at the University of Waterloo, Trustee at the Art Gallery of Ontario, past Chair and Board member of the United Way Toronto, Director and Chairman of Norbord Inc., Director and Chair of NexJ Systems Inc. and a director of Manulife Financial Corporation. He was elected a Fellow Chartered Accountant in March 2000 and named as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 in 1996. Robert was named to the Order of Canada in 2013 in recognition of his leadership in business and his community engagement.

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Marie Henein
Partner at Henein Hutchison

Marie Henein has been counsel on numerous high profile cases and has argued at all levels of court including the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. She is certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a Specialist in Criminal Law and is Past President of The Advocates' Society and a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.  She is a founder of the Court of Appeal's Appellate Duty Counsel Program and a member of the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute and the Canadian Case Assessment Group of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted.  Marie has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Law Commission of Ontario and is an Adjunct Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School. She recently delivered the prestigious Bernard Cohn Memorial Lecture at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law and was recognized as one of the Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers by Canadian Lawyer Magazine and honoured with the 2013 Laura Legge Award.

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Dr. Mohamed Lachemi
Interim President and Vice Chancellor, Ryerson University

A nationally recognized scholar, experienced administrator and an advocate for student and faculty success, Mohamed steps into the role of Interim President of Ryerson with a record of leading transformative change. The Ryerson Board of Governors approved the appointment effective December 1, 2015 and Mohamed said he is honoured to serve and eager to tackle the challenges of Ryerson’s expanding urban campus. "What I really love about Ryerson is it’s a place where you can really innovate, a place where you can really move things, in a very positive way,” he said. Mohamed has been Ryerson provost since 2013, serving in the key roles of chief academic officer and chief operating officer with overall responsibility for the university’s budget. He is nationally recognized for his pioneering research contributions in sustainable materials and innovative technologies. A former Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Construction, Mohamed is a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering.

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Susan McIsaac
President and CEO of United Way of Toronto and York Region

Susan McIsaac became President and CEO of United Way in 2010. She is a widely recognized leader with more than 20 years’ experience in the non-profit sector. A senior executive with United Way since 1998, Susan is a key architect of the organization’s strategic transformation, from trusted fundraiser to a community mobilizer and catalyst for change.  Before joining United Way, Susan worked for KCI Ketchum Canada and led Loyalist College’s first capital campaign. She donates her time to several non-profits including the Greater Toronto Civic Action Alliance Board of Directors, and works as a mentor for United Way’s CITY Leaders program. She has received the National Award of Excellence from United Way of Canada–Centraide Canada and was named Outstanding Fundraising Professional of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). She was awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal and received an Honorary Diploma from Loyalist College in 2012Susan was selected by the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the 2014 Sun Life Financial Trailblazers & Trendsetters Category.

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Senator Nancy Ruth, CM
philanthropist and women's rights advocate

The Hon. Nancy Ruth is a leading philanthropist and lifelong champion of women's rights. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Economic Council of Canada, The Canadian Centre for Arms Control, The Canada-USA Fulbright Foundation, the International Institute of Concern for Public Health and Mount St. Vincent University, among others. She has co-founded several organizations promoting women’s social change in Canada, notably LEAF (The Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund), The Canadian Women’s Foundation and The Linden School for girls. She has spoken across Canada about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and on a myriad of issues concerning women’s rights, poverty, politics and economics. Nancy Ruth has received several honorary doctorates and won many prestigious awards, including the Government of Ontario’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Human Rights and Membership in the Order of Canada.

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Charles Pachter, OC
leading contemporary Canadian artist

Charles Pachter, one of Canada’s leading contemporary artists, is a painter, printmaker, sculptor, designer, historian, lecturer and humanitarian.  He holds honorary doctorates from Brock University, the Ontario College of Art & Design, and the University of Toronto where he is a Senior Fellow at Massey College. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Chevalier of France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. His art is on permanent display at his Moose Factory Gallery in downtown Toronto and MOFO, the Moose Factory of Orillia. His paintings hang in public and private collections around the world and those of The Queen, moose, and maple leaf flag are pop icons of Canadian art. Retrospective Pachter exhibitions have toured France, Germany, Japan, and India.  

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Ceta Ramkhalawansingh
pioneer in women's rights and award-winning community activist

Ceta is a former municipal civil servant whose distinguished career spanned three decades. Before retiring in 2010 she held the position of Director of Diversity Management and Community Engagement. In 2014 she was appointed by Toronto City Council to represent Ward 20 following the resignation of Adam Vaughn. A lifelong community activist, Ceta helped establish the first women's studies program at the University of Toronto. As a resident of the Toronto Grange neighbourhood, Ceta has been a leader in protecting rental housing, saving heritage buildings from demolition and campaigning for responsible development, including restrictions on institutional expansion. She serves on many boards, including the Friends of Fort York, the Toronto Community Foundation and Word on the Street. Ceta's pioneering work on human rights and women's issues was recognized by Toronto City Council with the 2012 Constance E. Hamilton Award.   


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Dr. Mamdouh Shoukri, OC
President, York University

Mamdouh Shoukri became York University’s 7th President and Vice-Chancellor on July 1st, 2007. He came to York from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario where he had been Vice-President Research & International Affairs since 2001. In addition to his roles at York, Mamdouh serves on the Ministry of Industry’s Space Advisory Board, the Board of Directors of Universities Canada and the Loran Scholars Foundation, and he is Chair of the Government and Community Relations Committee for the Council of Ontario Universities. He is a member of the Standing Advisory Committee on University Research (SACUR) for Universities Canada, was a founding Board Member of the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) and a member of the Ontario Research and Innovation Council (ORIC). Mamdouh was named a Member of the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario in 2013, and awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal. He is a Senior Fellow of Massey College, a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering. 

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Walied Soliman
Partner at Norton Rose Fulbright

Walied Soliman is co-chair of Norton Rose Fulbright's Canadian special situations team, which encompasses Canada’s leading shareholder activist and defence mandates and complex reorganization transactions. He is widely regarded as one of the leading special situations practitioners in Canada. In addition, his practice focuses on mergers and acquisitions, restructurings, financings, corporate governance and structured products. Walied was named one of the 25 most influential lawyers in Canada by Canadian Lawyer magazine in 2014; ranked by Best Lawyers in Canada since 2013; and ranked as one of the Top 40 Lawyers under 40 in Canada by Lexpert magazine in 2009. Among other philanthropic endeavours, he is a board member of the Toronto SickKids Hospital Foundation. Walied is also well known for being actively involved in both provincial and federal politics in Canada.