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Our Team » Tonya Surman
Tonya Surman - Headshot

Tonya Surman

Chief Executive Officer

Tonya Surman is fuelled by her belief in the power of collaboration and belonging. She knows that putting the right people in a room is only the first step in creating real change. If you truly want to radically redesign our future, you need to first build a culture where everyone knows they have value and a voice.

She did this with the Constellation Model, an entirely new take on governance. She did this with the Centre for Social Innovation, which re-invented the workplace by collecting social purpose organizations under one roof. She did this with Community Bonds, an innovation that allows a nonprofit to turn to their social capital into financial capital. And it’s what she is doing with CSI’s affiliate charity the Social Innovation Institute and Social Innovation Canada, unlocking the social innovation community to get at the root causes of problems.

Tonya loves to prove that a new way is possible, inspiring people to think and do differently. Her expert ability to move across different cultures and power structures has allowed her to do this in an unlikely combination of ways:

  • As the CEO of the Centre for Social Innovation
  • As a co-creator of the collaborative that helped ban BPA in baby bottles
  • As the creator of innovative parent run co-op daycare
  • As a co-founder of the Ontario Nonprofit Network
  • As a co-founder of an online alternative news magazine
  • As the creator of the Catapult Microloan Fund
  • As the winner of several City Building Awards
  • As an invited speaker to the Senate
  • As a Global Ashoka Fellow
  • As a vibrant speaker and trusted advisor
  • As a member of many Boards of Directors

In spite of this list of achievements—which she is still surprised that people find intimidating⁠—Tonya feels most accomplished when she walks into one of the Centre for Social Innovation’s locations and sees groups of people smiling and chatting. She knows building relationships between people is the foundation for a better world. It’s also a heck of a lot of fun!