16 January 2019

The challenge of tackling institutional change took centre stage during the Future Forums workshops at the University of Toronto and York University.

Cheryl Thompson, who teaches in the Communications department at Ryerson University, was among the participants. She said the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation’s desire to make Engaged Leadership and Inclusive Excellence central themes in its programs is a bold and positive step.

“It’s great to work toward inclusion and diversity. But it means things are going to be challenged.”

Thompson observed that bringing forward changes in virtually any situation requires leadership that brings people together around a common goal.

“Courageous leadership is taking risks and putting people in an incubator to inspire new ideas.”

Kelsey Spitz-Dietrich is with the community organization CKX which focuses on inclusive leadership. She pointed to the need to ask hard questions when trying to pursue Inclusive Excellence in any setting.

“Who defines excellence? And inclusion? What do they mean? Often it has been based on one person’s definition. Excellence, or fitness, were defined by those who were already deemed excellent or fit.”

2008 Foundation Fellow Rosemary Sullivan is an award-winning writer, biographer, journalist, and activist. She suggested the Foundation could consider adapting its core programs to ensure the participation of a broader cross-section of society.

“It would be interesting to see if there could be different kinds of scholarships,” she said.
Leah Kim Brighton is with Mirae Talent and Executive Search. She strongly supports proactive efforts to diversify board rooms and classrooms. But she warns while the path to greater inclusivity is the right one, it isn’t always going to be easy.

“When you bring people together from different backgrounds, colours, and shapes, that can result in messy conversations.”

Foundation President and CEO Pascale Fournier acknowledged the road to positive change can be daunting and difficult. She underscored the Foundation’s efforts to support strong future leaders, including new policies for wellness and mental health services for Scholars.

“If you wish to be courageous, to change the world, we want to give you a toolbox to make more of an impact.”