Meet the Co-Chairs of the Foundation’s Board

The Canadian Women’s Foundation Board of Directors attracts a powerhouse of talented women leaders. That’s why it was bittersweet when a torch was passed at our February 2018 Annual General Board Meeting.

We said goodbye to Beth Summers, CFO at Superior Plus Corp., who served as a board member for nine years, most recently as co-chair. There were hugs and tears as we thanked Beth for her incredible service and dedication to the Foundation.

Stepping into the co-chair role is Dr. Kristin Blakely (top right), a sociologist based in Toronto, whose teaching and research focuses on gender, diversity, and leadership. Kristin, who has been a board member with the Foundation since 2016, will serve in her new role with co-chair Jody Johnson (lower right). Based in Calgary, Jody works as Associate General Counsel at TransCanada Corporation, leading the Litigation and Employment Law department.Jody Johnson, Co-chair of the Board of Directors, Canadian Women's Foundation

Kristin and Jody each bring their own sets of expertise and knowledge to the Foundation’s mission, and we look forward to working with them.

In the following interviews, Jody and Kristin talk about why they joined the Foundation, and how the advancement of gender equality benefits everyone.

    • Q&A with Board Co-Chair Jody Johnson

      Q: Why did you choose to get involved with the Canadian Women’s Foundation?

      Jody Johnson, Co-chair of the board, Canadian Women's Foundation

      A: I strongly believe in the mission of gender equality, as well as the key pillars of the Foundation’s work and how they contribute to the advancement of gender equality. I was taken by the national scope of the Foundation, as well as how the capacity-building work the Foundation does catapults the service delivery of agencies at the grassroots level. It is emblematic of the statement that “together we are better.”

      Q: How has your work as a lawyer/litigator influenced your interest in gender equality?

      A: Law is still very much an old boys’ game. While the number of women lawyers graduating law school is over 50%, there is a very high rate of attrition – much of which can be attributed to the fact that many law firms still work on an economic and operational model that traditionally has not been very supportive of women.

      Q: What has been a highlight of your work with the Foundation so far? Has there been a key learning moment or experience that continues to motivate you?

      A: One highlight has been the work we did to develop of our new Strategic Plan. I’m particularly excited to see the addition of leadership to our pillars of work, as well as the increased focus on thought leadership and advocacy.

      What continues to motivate my involvement is meeting with and hearing from the women who work at the Foundation. They are so intelligent and have such a depth and breadth of knowledge in their areas of expertise, it is inspiring to listen to them talk about the work that they do. They give me great hope for our future.

      Q: How does advancing gender equality benefit all Canadians?

      A: Advancing gender equality benefits all Canadians in a myriad of ways but one key way is economically. When adequate resources and opportunities are provided to 100% of the population, the talent pool is expanded exponentially, labour force participation is heightened, and the economic pie is increased as a whole, which benefits all of us.

      • Q&A with Board Co-Chair Dr. Kristin Blakely

        Q: Why did you choose to get involved with the Canadian Women’s Foundation?

        Dr. Kristin Blakely speaks at Canadian Women's Foundation Breakfast.A: At 21, as I was beginning my master’s in sociology at York University, I interned at the Canadian Women’s Foundation. Bev Wybrow, the CEO of the Foundation at the time, brought me on so I could learn and understand its work. I worked primarily alongside the Foundation’s Economic Development team, learning how job-skills training, access to childcare, and sustainable housing are key to women’s economic autonomy. I also gained knowledge of philanthropy, granting, and the importance of capacity- and network-building. These last two features of the Foundation’s work are central to its culture of learning, connectivity, and action-oriented philanthropy. They really speak to me as a public sociologist and to my commitment to fostering deeper and meaningful connections between the community and academia.

        I have respected and admired the Foundation since my time as an intern. Joining the board was a beautiful, full-circle moment in my life. I am honoured and pumped to be embarking on my new role as co-chair and feel that the Foundation is in a forward-looking and innovative stage in its life course.

        Q: As a sociologist, you’ve been involved in researching and working toward gender equality for many years. Is there a particular project that you’re most proud of?

        A: I am most proud of my three young feminist sons. They are my most special “projects”!

        Children have a formidable although often underestimated capacity for understanding social inequalities. I firmly believe that socialization is a powerful force in the movement for gender equity and social change.

        Q: You teach undergraduate university courses. Are you seeing and hearing concerns about gender inequality among your students?

        A: Yes. The #MeToo movement has ignited energy, social action and discourse among students on issues of workplace harassment, gendered violence, gendered gaps in leadership, power and privilege in society. It is an exciting time to be connected to campus.

        Q: How does advancing gender equality benefit all Canadians?

        A: I would encourage people to watch Michael Kimmel’s TED Talk Why Gender Equality is Good for Everyone. Michael, a fellow sociologist and feminist, as well as our 2016 Breakfast speaker, makes the case for supporting gender equity so intelligently and intelligibly.

        Beyond the moral imperative – of course it is the ‘right’ thing to do – gender equity makes sense because everyone benefits. Take the business case for equity – it is abundantly clear that diversity pays off.

        Ernst & Young (shout out to Paula Smith, our board treasurer and an E&Y partner) analyzed results from 22,000 global, publicly-traded companies in 91 countries and found that companies with at least 30% of women in leadership positions add as much as 6 percentage points to their net profit margin. The research tells us that people are more productive, more committed, and more fulfilled in workplaces that are more equitable – i.e. with policies and organizational cultures that value work-life balance and pay equity and have diversity among the leadership.

        Sociological and psychological studies tell us that the greater the sharing of housework and childcare is within a household, the happier and healthier families report to be – children do better in school, family members have higher rates of mental and physical health, couples are less likely to divorce and so on.

        The research is clear. Equity on the home front and in the workplace results in happier people, more productive and lucrative businesses and organizations, and stronger communities. Gender equity is a no-brainer.

      Learn more about the Foundation’s Board of Directors.