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Thanking Marie Moliner — Welcoming George Dark

Today I am proud to acknowledge the incredible leadership of Marie Moliner as she steps down from the role of Chair of the Centre for Social Innovation after eight years on the board, including five years as our Chair.

Marie’s love letter to CSI is excerpted here:

Dear CSI 

I LOVE YOU

I am so grateful to all you wonderful humans in our many CSI spaces. You are   awesome people whose life work seeks to make our communities creative, strong and beautiful. I have learned so much from your work  and especially from Tonya (and her team’s) scrappy exuberance and brilliant dedication to executing ideas that put people and planet first. 

On a hard day, I have been healed by walking into CSI and being greeted by joyous DECAs. I have witnessed the creative impact that CSI’s carefully  curated spaces can have on our ability to do good. I have learned that I can use the word LOVE in a Board meeting and know that it is apt. I have felt the LOVE back.  Within the CSI walls, I have been gifted conversations, insights and trust that have made me smarter and… dare I say… more woke! 

As a Board Chair, I have had the privilege of observing up close  Tonya’s extraordinary commitment and leadership. Mostly my role on the board has been to  provide gentle (most of the time) guidance and oversight to CSI for over 8 memorable years.  I am particularly proud of our work to support our members. During my time CSI has expanded in all directions — building on the success of CSI Annex, we bought our   second building at 192 Spadina, we moved our awesome community of members over from our original homestead at 215 Spadina, we continue to leverage our Manhattan comrades south of the border at  CSI-Starrett-Lehigh. I remain humbled by how the CSI team enables the 1000 organizations in our spaces to thrive as they test different ways to educate and accelerate social innovation work. This work has   never been more important.

For me, walking through any of our five CSI space is enchanting:  bumping into people who care deeply, work hard , play hard and laugh loud. Who could ask for more –other than perhaps for champagne and  dark chocolate? 

I am continually amazed at the work of the over 300 social enterprises including the Agents of Change  accelerator programs such as Climate Ventures. I am proud of my role in the creation of the IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility) Committee and have marvelled at  how its two demographic surveys have broken new ground and the creation of “How to be an Ally” series. I am excited at our decision to launch Social Innovation Canada. I know that our decision to create the Social Innovation Institute will allow us to truly advance and sustain our work.  As I step down as Chair , I known that CSI is in the strongest of positions to continue to advocate and support social innovation and to execute multiple agendas in a way that welcomes and values all perspectives. 

Marie has provided the leadership and guidance to the organization in times of great change and we could not be more grateful.

Personally, what I am most appreciative of, has been Marie‘s support of me. Nearly every week, Marie and I would walk our dogs in High Park where she would let me talk, bounce ideas, iterate and innovate as my wisdom council, mentor and friend. She encouraged me and supported me to take a sabbatical which ultimately transformed me in ways I myself wasn’t able to imagine. Her openness, honesty, ability to challenge and support me is unparalleled. More than a Board Chair, Marie has been a co-creator who believes so deeply in the humans who do this work. I really believe that her theory of change is to unlock the potential in others as her own, profound change work. I will forever be grateful for the role that she has played in helping to build me into the person that I aspire to be.

So who will Chair CSI now, you ask? The vastly different but equally formidable, George Dark. You may know George from his work as the Senior Design Partner at Urban Strategies or as Chair of Evergreen who steered that organization through the creation of Evergreen Brick Works. You may know him as a recipient of the Governor General’s Medal in Landscape Architecture or for his passionate work as a board member on the McMichael Gallery. If you do have the pleasure of knowing George, you will know him for his affable ways, his frank ability to get right to the heart of the matter and his incredible spirit and commitment to what is good and right.

As CSI transitions our work to a more place-based focus and looks to build the ‘Next Economy’ in Toronto, I don’t think that we could have a more passionate leader and ally. George is in great company with the likes of our equally extraordinary Board members, Brian Iler, Colin Yee, Rebecca Shields, Rahul Raj, Helen Yung and Marie Moliner, who will remain for a transition period.

We are so very grateful to the incredible leadership and guidance of our Board of Directors.

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