Several of this year’s Forty Under 40 recipients strengthen our community through leadership roles at local charities, Crown corporations and cultural institutions.
In this group of Forty Under 40 profiles, we meet this year’s recipients from the public and not-for-profit sectors:
Anna Keller, senior legal counsel, Canadian Commercial Corp.
For nearly a decade, Anna Keller has facilitated growth in dozens of new foreign markets for her employers and clients alike by developing business outreach strategies and acquisition plans.
As a corporate lawyer at Shopify in 2018, she spearheaded an international corporate structure that enabled the company to seamlessly expand into overseas markets – a goal she is continuing to pursue in her current role at the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a Crown corporation that helps Canadian exporters sell products and services abroad, where she is the only female senior legal counsel.
While Keller’s work is currently focused on guiding businesses through international expansion, she previously worked on internal business and revenue growth initiatives while working in private practice and saw the firm’s clientele increase by 20 per cent.
Outside of work, Keller is the youngest female independent director on the University of Ottawa Board of Governors, and she is a sessional lecturer at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business.
Prior to taking the bar, Keller worked as an award-winning journalist at the Toronto Star, where she covered local and national business news.
Katharine Im-Jenkins, chief programs officer, World University Services Canada
Having worked for World University Services Canada for more than a decade, Katharine Im-Jenkins is no stranger to the challenges associated with fundraising and international affairs.
WUSC is a non-profit that works to improve education and economic opportunities for young people around the world. Im-Jenkins has navigated many hurdles throughout her career, including increased terrorist activity in the organization’s partner regions, changes in local government and foreign policy as well as the recent emergence of COVID-19.
Despite the challenges, she has continued to strengthen the organization’s position locally and internationally, all while ensuring the safety of her team and the organization’s many international volunteers.
She designed and renewed countless fundraising contracts, resulting in millions of dollars of new revenue for WUSC in the last five years that has allowed the organization to expand to more than 300 employees worldwide.
She was a longtime board member of the Equality Fund, and currently sits on the Brighter Investment board of directors. She is also involved in a private sponsorship group bringing Syrian refugees to the Ottawa community.
Im-Jenkins is also known to share her passion for education at numerous international development conferences. In 2019, she spoke at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association of International Development Professionals, and played a leading role at conferences in both Vancouver and Nairobi the same year.
Melissa McGuirk McNeil, director of advancement, Ottawa Network for Education
When Melissa McGuirk McNeil joined the Ottawa Network for Education in 2015, she brought a vision of online fundraising and digital rebranding that would fundamentally change the way the organization operated.
Now five years into her role, she has raised thousands of dollars through digital campaigns such as #GivingTuesday and the JA Future Leaders Campaign that broadened ONFE's reach to hundreds of new donors.
McNeil has restructured many aspects of the organization, including a long-standing annual gala that was not raising the funds needed and was occupying too much time. Instead, she assisted in designing the ONFE Spark Soiree, which has raised $250,000 in three years and has become a well-known event within the city.
Prior to joining the ONFE team, McNeil played a pivotal role at the United Way, where she implemented major fundraising galas with the help of the Next Generation Cabinet – a team of young volunteers she founded. Together, they created Schmoozefest, a major source of funding for the United Way that still takes place 14 years later.
McNeil’s passion for philanthropy does not end at work. She helped plan and execute Ottawa’s first Timeraiser event in 2006, which was the most successful first-time event of its kind – attracting more than 250 participants and raising in excess of $10,000 for local artists.
She has also held positions on numerous boards across the city, including the Orléans-Cumberland Community Resource Centre and the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Ottawa.
Patrick Nadeau, executive director, Ottawa Riverkeeper
When Ottawa and the surrounding regions were struck by one of the worst floods on record in 2019, Patrick Nadeau – who was still relatively new to his executive director role at the Ottawa Riverkeeper – was quickly thrust into the spotlight.
As the head of the organization that advocates for the health and protection of the Ottawa River watershed, Nadeau was tasked with leading the Ottawa Riverkeeper through a time of uncertainty and environmental crisis.
New issues soon emerged when massive amounts of fish were washing up on Ottawa shorelines and discussions were held about constructing a new nuclear waste plant near the Ottawa River – issues with potentially severe implications for the local ecosystem.
Throughout that period, Nadeau relied on his nearly 10 years of prior leadership experience in environmental non-profits to guide the organization through to the other side – which he did with great success.
Since joining the Riverkeeper in 2016, Nadeau has overseen rapid growth at the organization, including more than a 100 per cent increase in budget over four years and a 30 per cent increase in staff.
Nadeau is also responsible for a myriad of new programs and initiatives at the not-for-profit, including a Youth Water Leaders program and an endangered species campaign.
His commitment to the local community extends outside of the office, where he offers career mentorship for undergrad science students and is the chair of the Ottawa bilingual selection committee for the Loran Scholars Foundation.
Sasha Suda, director and CEO, National Gallery of Canada
In just over a year, Sasha Suda has reinvented one of the city’s most treasured cultural institutions with the goal of reconnecting with the local community and engaging a younger, broader audience.
Joining the National Gallery of Canada as the youngest director and CEO in more than a century – and the youngest woman ever appointed – Suda was quick to establish the gallery’s first-ever strategic pillar plan, which focuses on resetting institutional values and curating exhibits that spark conversations.
With an extensive background in art direction and curation, Suda made bringing more relevance to the gallery her top priority – a task she tackled by refreshing the free access public spaces of the gallery and filling them with artwork. She also led a rebranding of the space as a unique cultural destination and venue, which attracted Shopify’s annual Global Summit Reception in 2019.
In her first year as chief executive officer, she’s also dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, which drastically affected the gallery. In response to its temporary closure, Suda provided oversight and leadership in the development of a digital project that features online articles, videos and archival material to continue to engage audiences from home.
She has also contributed to numerous publications and articles throughout her career and continues to engage with the broader Ottawa community, specifically the region’s Indigneous community. In 2019, Suda helped open the Abadakone / Continuous Fire / Feu Continuel exhibition at the gallery, the largest recurring Indigenous contemporary art exhibition in the world.