Finally - a "top" list where nonprofit leaders shine

publication date: Jul 9, 2011
author/source: Janet Gadeski
When you come across a "top" list - "Top Workplaces in Canada" or "Top Canadian Executives" or "Top 40 Under 40" - do you scan it looking for nonprofit organizations or leaders? Janet Gadeski photo

I do. And usually I find a few - not near the beginning, not in the largest typeface. But for the most part, those honour rolls are all about corporate leaders. The only lists where charity leaders predominate seem to be the annual AFP chapter awards. It's as if the people behind most of the "top" lists don't truly understand success that doesn't involve making money.

Young "best possible" are nonprofit-oriented

That's why it was so refreshing to learn about Youth in Motion's "Top 20 Under 20" awards. It's not specifically a nonprofit competition, but sets out to "help [young Canadian leaders] become the best possible role models for their peers, the best possible ambassadors for Canada and the best possible business, political, social and thought leaders of the future," according to its organizers.

Yet most of this year's winners, chosen by a panel of Order of Canada judges for their innovation, leadership and achievement, are either already active in the nonprofit sector or passionately committed to innovations that will likely lead them there in the future.

A dazzling random sample

  • Nineteen-year-old Ivneet Bains began a mentoring organization that helps young people with math skills and public speaking. Math4me now has 16 employees and has helped over 300 students, some of whose grades have increased by 60%.
  • Jennifer Cloutier, also 19, lost her legs to a car accident at the age of six. The Harvard professor who nominated her describes her as "one of the most impressive, perhaps the most impressive" student he's ever taught. By focusing on stem cell research, she aims to improve the lives of the disabled and those with chronic illnesses.
  • Darren Cole, age 16, started Kids Against Canadian Hunger to support food banks, and with his two brothers, launched another organization that's distributed almost $1 million in school supplies and backpacks to needy children.
  • Sameer Dhar has already won the Alberta Premier's Citizenship Award for raising money both for Haitian relief and for local needy families.
  • Megan Fultz helped start the Winnipeg chapter of Oxfam, and serves as the Prairie regional chair for the national organization.
  • Eighteen-year-old Corey Cook  is an advocate for an organization working with First Nations youth. A proud graduate of its programs, he gives the agency credit for helping him stay away from drugs and gangs, and deal with peer pressure.
  • Tiffany Harrington, 17, created The Cross Generational Exchange to bring youth and seniors together and increase respect for community elders.

This is just a random sample of the 20 winners. There are 13 more, all impressive, all headed for continued success in fields as diverse as immunology, social change, health care, human rights activism and international aid.

One such list of young Canadian world-changers would be remarkable enough. But YIM recognizes 20 young people of this calibre every year! It finds winners in part by promoting the competition to the thousands of young people already benefitting from its local leadership training.

And each year, new winners affirm that the best and brightest in their generation are already leading positive change, blazing a hopeful path for Canada's future.

For more information,, Contact Janet at; follow her on Twitter, @CFPed.

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