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Fall Induction Exercise: Canadian Charitable Sector

September 9, 2022 at 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM

Location:2nd Floor Conference Room Richcraft Hall
Audience:Alumni, Current Students

Measuring Up? Data in the Contemporary Governance of the Canadian Charitable Sector

Effective governance relies on data. Yet, data collection is not costless. Data collection processes and requirements can impose burdens on those actors the data is meant to represent, and it can create costs for governments and organizations that need to collect, store, analyze, and report on data. As much as data can illuminate, it can also overlook and neglect important processes and consequences of governance, creating harm and negative overall impacts.

Questions about the best way to collect data about the Canadian charitable sector and what these data should capture have been the focus of longstanding discussions within the sector. This induction session will focus in on these discussions to cast a larger light on issues of data collection in contemporary governance. Speakers will review the current approaches to data and governance in Canada. They will also raise and discuss issues about what needs to change to strike a balance between the benefits and costs of different approaches to data governance for Canadian charities and the consequences of these approaches for charitable activities and purposes and benefits for Canadian society as a whole.

This event will be followed by an alumni reception from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. with 2022 Bissett Distinguished Alumni Award recipient: Danielle McDonald (MAPA ’87).


  • Hilary Pearson, Co-chair of the Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector; Founding President of Philanthropic Foundations Canada
  • Cathy Barr, Vice President, Research & Strategic Relationships at Imagine Canada
  • Kevin McCort, President and CEO of Vancouver Foundation
  • Michael Lenczner, CEO of Ajah, a data firm focused on nonprofits


  • Graeme Auld, Professor, School of Public Policy and Administration
  • Nathan Grasse, Associate Professor, School of Public Policy and Administration


Hilary Pearson has had a twenty-year career in the field of foundation philanthropy in Canada.  As the founding President of Philanthropic Foundations Canada from 2001 to 2019, she collaborated with many of the largest private charitable foundations in the country.

Author of numerous articles, book reviews and columns, Ms. Pearson speaks frequently on Canadian philanthropy at conferences and workshops in Canada and globally.  In her role at PFC, she edited comprehensive guides to starting and managing foundations, as well as guides for funders working with governments, with universities, and in policy advocacy. She writes a regular blog on trends and issues in foundation philanthropy for her website, and acts as a strategic advisor and facilitator for family and independent foundations.  She is the author of From Charity To Change: Inside the World of Canadian Foundations (forthcoming fall 2022 from McGill Queens University Press).

In 2019, Ms Pearson was appointed co-chair of the Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector, advising the federal Minister of Revenue on charitable policy and regulatory issues.

In July 2018, she was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada for her contributions to building the field of philanthropy in Canada. In October 2020, she was installed as Chancellor of Brock University.

She holds a BA and MA in Political Economy from the University of Toronto and honourary doctorates from Carleton University and the University of New Brunswick.

Cathy Barr is Vice-President of Research & Strategic Relationships at Imagine Canada, a national charitable organization whose mission is to strengthen and support Canadian charities and nonprofits. She’s been with the organization since 2002, when it was known as the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy. From 2002 to 2007, she was Imagine Canada’s Director of Research and was involved in several major research projects, including the Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating; the National Survey of Nonprofit and Voluntary Organizations; the Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Project; and the Canada Volunteerism Initiative’s Knowledge Development Centre.

In 2007, Cathy became the founding Director of the Insurance & Liability Resource Centre for Nonprofits, which was established to help charities and nonprofits understand and manage their risks and become informed insurance consumers. She later took on responsibility for Imagine Canada’s Ethical Code Program, which led to her involvement in the creation of Canada’s first Standards Program specifically designed for registered charities and public-benefit nonprofits.

As Vice-President, Cathy has also been responsible for Imagine Canada’s internal operations; public policy and advocacy activities; the research program; grant-writing and reporting; and relationship development and nurturing.

Before working to the charitable sector, Cathy was an Assistant Professor at Wilfrid Laurier University. She’s currently on the Board of Directors of the Association of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research (ANSER) and the Editorial Advisory Committee of The Philanthropist Journal.

Kevin McCort is President and CEO of Vancouver Foundation.  With more than 30 years of service to the non-profit sector, both in Canada and around the world, he has earned a reputation as a smart, strategic leader who always puts community at the heart of his work.

Kevin has led Vancouver Foundation through a period of significant transformation with a focus on seeking systemic change by addressing root causes of pressing social, cultural, economic and environmental issues.  Strong growth in new funds and assets has enabled the foundation to contribute over $500M in funding to support building healthy, vibrant, equitable and inclusive communities across B.C. since he joined in 2013.

Kevin was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal for his leadership in promoting Canadian values of tolerance and social justice across the world and currently serves on the boards of Friends of Vancouver Foundation, and the B.C. Unclaimed Property Society.  He is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization, and recently completed his terms on the federal Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector and the board of Community Foundations of Canada.

Michael Lenczner has over 20 years of experience working on public interest technology and the nonprofit sector. He splits his time between serving as the CEO of Ajah, a Montreal-based company that develops online tools for fundraisers, and being the Director of Powered by Data, a nonprofit initiative launched by Ajah that helps the nonprofit sector access data to increase its impact.

Working in open data since 2005, he has co-founded national, provincial and municipal advocacy groups, as well as coordinated numerous hackathons on issues such as sustainability, corruption and municipal services.

Michael also serves on several nonprofit boards and advisory groups related to technology, democracy, and the nonprofit sector. He is a frequent participant in community – university research partnerships, and has published in academic and non-academic journal articles on new applications of data and technology in the areas of public administration and service delivery, policy development, and epidemiology. Michael is a School Fellow at the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton University.