Jess is the Co-CEO of the Equality Fund (formerly the President and CEO of The MATCH International Women’s Fund). Emphasizing the role of innovation in social movements, Jess leads an effort to resource women’s organizations around the world working to change systems and dismantle barriers. Jess has worked in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Asia for a range of actors including the World Bank, the UN and USAID. Prior to her appointment at The MATCH Fund and the Equality Fund, Jess was with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), managing large-scale reform for the Agency that supports Palestinian Refugees across the Middle East. Jess was named by the Stevie Awards as 2017's Most Innovative Woman of the Year.
Jessica Houssian fell in love with feminism as a little girl and has focused her career on advancing women’s equality ever since. Jessica is a Senior Advisor at Women Moving Millions, a global community of women philanthropists who invest boldly with a gender lens. Prior to her work with WMM, Jessica was a partner at Inspired Philanthropy Group—a boutique consulting firm supporting individual philanthropists and corporations to help create authentic, effective impact. Jessica holds a B.A. in Women & Gender Studies (Bates College) and an M.Sc. in Fundraising & Grantmaking (New York University), and currently serves on the Board of Directors of RefugePoint and as Co-chair of The Houssian Foundation. In 2019, Jessica co-founded the Equality Fund, a Canadian-led collaboration that combines international feminist philanthropy and grantmaking with an innovative investment arm, delivering new momentum for women’s movements and supporting the advancement of gender equality globally.
Sophie Gupta is a Principal at Yaletown Partners, an impact-focused venture capital fund manager that invests in businesses developing technologies to digitally transform traditional industries by prioritizing climate resilient growth for an innovative and sustainable future.
In addition to her work as an investment professional, Sophie is the Co-Founder of the Gupta Family Foundation, mandated to support the empowerment of girls and women through educational and economic advancement opportunities. Sophie has served on the Board of Directors of The MATCH International Women’s Fund and the Canadian Women’s Foundation. She is currently the Co-Chair of the Canadian Venture Capital Association’s (CVCA) Diversity and Inclusion Committee and serves on the Board of Engineers Without Borders.
Sophie holds a Bachelor of Laws from Université Laval, as well as an Honours Bachelor of Commerce (specializing in International Business) from the University of Ottawa and lives in Montréal, Québec.
Yaletown Partners is a well-established pan-Canadian venture capital fund manager. The firm invests in next generation technologies addressing resource sustainability and climate change, and fostering climate resilient growth. The firm has invested and currently manages over $300 million in assets.
Yaletown will support with an institutional-grade investment platform and will lend their technical expertise and sectoral thought leadership.
Theo’s work includes advisory roles to African and other international women and children’s rights activists and leaders, plus policy development and advocacy with a variety of international agencies and organisations. She was Senior Programme Advisor on the UN Study on Children and Armed Conflict (the Machel Report) and led the five year review of the report.
Theo is a board member of various national and international civil society organisations and grant making foundations, including being a Chair of Comic Relief’s International Grants Committee; and a member of the African Advisory Board of the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
She has authored many publications, including being a contributing author and co-editor of a Harvard Law School/UNICEF Innocenti publication on ‘Children and Transitional Justice.’
The African Women's Development Fund (AWDF) mobilises financial, human and material resources to support local, national, and regional initiatives for transformation led by African women. Since its establishment in the year 2000, AWDF has provided more than $41 million in grants to over 1,350 women-led organizations in 43 African countries and 3 in the Middle East.
AWDF believes that if women and women’s organisations are empowered with skills, information, sustainable livelihoods, opportunities to fulfil their potential, plus the capacity and space to make transformational choices, then we will have vibrant, healthy and inclusive communities.
AWDF brings southern leadership to the Equality Fund and is a key partner in shaping our grant-making and philanthropic strategies.
Paulette Senior is President & CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation. She has devoted her career to empowering women and girls to overcome barriers and reach their full potential.
Paulette started her career on the front lines of social service organizations in some of Toronto’s most economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods. She saw how social resources and systemic change could transform women’s lives. Through her work and advocacy with shelters, as well as employment and housing programs, she has earned numerous awards and become one of the most respected women leaders in Canada.
Paulette joined the Foundation in 2016, after 10 years as CEO of YWCA Canada. Her work with the Foundation is guided by the vision of an inclusive, national movement toward gender equity that will strengthen all Canadians.
The Canadian Women’s Foundation is a national leader in the movement for gender equality in Canada. Through funding, research, advocacy, and knowledge sharing, the Foundation works to achieve systemic change that includes all women. By supporting community programs, the Foundation empowers women and girls to move themselves out of violence, out of poverty, and into confidence and leadership. Launched in 1991 to address a critical need for philanthropy focused on women, the Canadian Women’s Foundation is one of the largest women’s foundations in the world. With the support of donors, the Foundation has raised more than $90 million and funded over 1,900 programs across the country.
The Canadian Women's Foundation brings deep expertise on women's rights in Canada and will support the design and execution of the Canadian strategy.
Andrea brings a unique perspective to the CFC team having held roles in both the non-profit and corporate philanthropy sectors. She held leadership positions with the PricewaterhouseCoopers Canada Foundation where she oversaw the Canadian firm’s philanthropic portfolio, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Toronto.
Andrea lead the development of the Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough as its founding Executive Director. Under Andrea’s leadership, the organization grew from a spark of an idea into the force for community that it is today. Following her community foundation role, Andrea joined the Rideau Hall Foundation start-up team by droving its initial programming and activity across the country and throughout sectors.
After the successful development of the Rideau Hall Foundation alongside Community Foundations of Canada, Andrea shifted into a full-time role working in partnership with Canadian community foundations.
Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) is the Canadian movement for community vitality. CFC's network of 191 community foundations holds $5.8 billion in assets and together reaches 90% of Canadian communities. It is part of a global network of more than 1,800 place-based foundations in over 50 countries around the world.
CFC has the capacity to manage significant financial investments and provide management support. Its Canadian network is a promising entry point to explore new ways of engaging Canadian philanthropists and local activists.
Keely brings more than a decade of experience in the women's rights field to PAWHR. She was formerly the Director of Programs at Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights where she supported women's human rights defenders around the intersection of security and sustainability in time-urgent situations.
Previously, Keely worked with refugees and asylum seekers in the United States, Moldova, and Turkey. Her experience ranges from the UN High Commission for Refugees and Caritas at the global levels to local resettlement programs.
Additionally, she conducted research for Transparency International-Moldova and managed a pilot program for immigrant families in Denver. Keely received her MA in International Human Rights with a Certificate in Conflict Resolution from the University of Denver and holds a BA in International Affairs from the University of Colorado-Boulder.
Philanthropy for Advancing Women’s Human Rights (PAWHR) is a network that mobilizes funders to support the women’s rights ecosystem. Collectively, its membership is comprised of twelve private foundations and philanthropic advisors. PAWHR leverages more than $200 million USD annually toward advancing women’s human rights. Members include: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Channel Foundation, Dietel & Partners, Ford Foundation, Foundation for a Just Society, NoVo Foundation, Oak Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Sigrid Rausing Trust, Wallace Global Fund, Wellspring Philanthropic Fund and William & Flora Hewlett Foundation.
PAWHR will provide thought leadership, strategic advice and mentorship for grant-making, investment and strategic philanthropy.
As the VP Corporate Citizenship for RBC, Valerie leads Corporate Citizenship across the enterprise, responsible for devising and implementing an integrated strategy and framework aligned to RBC’s purpose and business objectives.
Her team helps RBC create and protect social and environmental value for society, employees, clients and shareholders, through insights-informed, issues-based and impact-driven strategies and programs, that span strategic philanthropy, citizenship impact measurement, reporting and communication, corporate environmental affairs, and social innovation and finance.
Prior to joining RBC, she was a Partner with Deloitte Canada’s Enterprise Risk Services and the America’s Leader of Deloitte’s Sustainability and Climate Change(S&CC) Practice. In this role, she provided national leadership and direction, and expertise in the areas of Environment, Health & Safety, Sustainability, Climate Change, Water and Energy Management across the Americas. She was also an advisor to Deloitte Canada’s internal corporate responsibility program.
Through her varied career in government, consulting and industry, Valerie has worked with national and international businesses, governments and non-government organizations to create opportunity by proactively managing environmental and social risks, and implement programs that deliver both shareholder and stakeholder value, across all industry sectors.
She was named as a member of Canada’s Clean 16 – leader in the consulting sector; is a member of Privy Council’s Impact Canada Advisory Council, a founding member of Women for Nature, and is a mentor to an extensive roster of young leaders.
Valerie has a BSc in Biochemistry and a BSc of Applied Science in Chemical Engineering; and is fluent in French and Spanish.
Royal Bank of Canada is a global financial institution with a purpose-driven, principles-led approach to delivering leading performance. Our success comes from the 84,000+ employees who bring our vision, values and strategy to life so we can help our clients thrive and communities prosper. As Canada’s biggest bank, and one of the largest in the world based on market capitalization, we have a diversified business model with a focus on innovation and providing exceptional experiences to our 16 million clients in Canada, the U.S. and 34 other countries.
We are proud to support a broad range of community initiatives through donations, community investments and employee volunteer activities. See how at rbc.com/community-sustainability.
RBC will bring its scale as one of the world’s largest banks based on market capitalization and its expertise in responsible investing and sustainable finance to provide advice and counsel on how to structure and manage the Equality Fund.
Sharon Avery is President & CEO of Toronto Foundation, one of Canada’s leading community foundations and a Toronto city-building institution.
Ms. Avery has built a 21-year career as a high energy fundraiser and passionate communicator. Prior to joining the Foundation in September, 2016, she served for eight years as Chief Development Officer at UNICEF Canada where she more than doubled its investment in children, transforming the organization on the international stage.
Prior to UNICEF Sharon Avery held senior roles at SickKids Foundation, Save the Children Canada and Tim Horton Children's Foundation
Sharon is known for her entrepreneurial spirit, critical thinking and collaborative leadership. She is a dynamic public speaker on a mission to bring philanthropy to the task of building a more resilient Toronto.
Toronto Foundation, established in 1981, is one of 191 Community Foundations in Canada. They pool philanthropic dollars and facilitate charitable donations for maximum community impact. Their individual, family and organizational Funds number more than 500 and they administer more than $480 million in assets. Through strategic granting, thought leadership and convening, they engage in city building, mobilizing people and resources to increase the quality of life in Toronto.
Toronto Foundation brings significant financial management and investment experience to the Equality Fund.
Calvert Impact Capital makes impact investable. For nearly 25 years, it has worked to scale the impact marketplace by connecting the capital markets with underserved communities in more than 100 countries around the world. To-date, Calvert Impact Capital has mobilized over $2.5 billion of individual and institutional investor capital via its Community Investment Note®, a retail fixed income product, and syndications services.
Jennifer began her career in the Peace Corps working in West Africa before spending a decade in finance at Neuberger Berman in New York and Morgan Stanley in London. Prior to joining Calvert Impact Capital in 2008, Jennifer worked for Nonprofit Finance Fund, a national Community Development Financial Institution, and for The Public Theater in New York City. Jennifer received her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Union College and her MBA from Columbia University.
Calvert Impact Capital invests to create a more equitable and sustainable world. Through its products and services, Calvert raises capital from individual and institutional investors to finance intermediaries and funds that are investing in communities left out of traditional capital markets. During its 24-year history, it has mobilized over $2.5 billion of investor capital. Calvert Impact Capital has recently expanded its services to aggregate capital where it originates, structures and administers loans for institutional and accredited investors seeking environmental and social impact. Since the launch, it has catalyzed an additional $200mm.
Calvert Impact Capital will bring nearly 25 years’ experience investing private debt into impact opportunities around the globe with a gender lens.
Chris Eaton is the Executive Director of World University Service of Canada (WUSC), a non-profit global development agency that aims to improve education, economic, and empowerment opportunities for youth - with a particular focus on refugees and women. Chris began his professional career over 30 years ago as a WUSC volunteer in Lesotho, where he worked on small business development issues. Since then, Chris has worked in Canada and internationally for a number of organizations, supporting a variety of education, employment, market development and governance initiatives. Chris has Bachelors (1989) and Masters (1991) Degrees from the University of Toronto, in International Development Studies and Political Science, respectively.
WUSC (World University Service of Canada) is a Canadian non-profit organization working to create a better world for youth, especially young women and young refugees. WUSC brings together a diverse network of students, volunteers, schools, governments, and businesses who share this vision. Together, WUSC fosters youth-centered solutions in education, economic opportunities, and empowerment to overcome inequality and exclusion in over 25 countries across Asia, Africa, and the Americas. WUSC will support the Equality Fund as it builds its financial and operational systems.
Oxfam Canada is part of a global movement for change, building lasting solutions to poverty and injustice by promoting the rights of women and girls. Established in 1963, Oxfam Canada has decades of experience in women’s rights programming globally, working directly with communities, partners and women's rights organizations and movements to challenge the systems that perpetuate inequality and discrimination. Oxfam Canada will contribute its extensive feminist grant-making and feminist MEL expertise to the success of the Equality Fund.
We are building a new way to fund women’s rights and gender equality around the world – one that is feminist, brave, collaborative, and sustainable. The Equality Fund brings together partners with a feminist agenda to build an innovative solution to fund the fight for gender equality around the world. Join us.
The Equality Fund is made possible in partnership with the Government of Canada.